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It's 1910, and thirteen-year-old Raisa has just traveled alone from a small Polish shtetl all the way to New York City. It's overwhelming, awe-inspiring, and even dangerous, especially when she discovers that her sister has disappeared and she must now fend for herself. She finds work in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory sewing bodices on the popular shirtwaists. Raisa makes It's 1910, and thirteen-year-old Raisa has just traveled alone from a small Polish shtetl all the way to New York City. It's overwhelming, awe-inspiring, and even dangerous, especially when she discovers that her sister has disappeared and she must now fend for herself. She finds work in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory sewing bodices on the popular shirtwaists. Raisa makes friends and even-dare she admit it?- falls in love. But then 1911 dawns, and one March day a spark ignites in the factory. One of the city's most harrowing tragedies unfolds, and Raisa's life is forever changed. . . . One hundred years after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, this moving young adult novel gives life to the tragedy and hope of this transformative event in American history.


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It's 1910, and thirteen-year-old Raisa has just traveled alone from a small Polish shtetl all the way to New York City. It's overwhelming, awe-inspiring, and even dangerous, especially when she discovers that her sister has disappeared and she must now fend for herself. She finds work in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory sewing bodices on the popular shirtwaists. Raisa makes It's 1910, and thirteen-year-old Raisa has just traveled alone from a small Polish shtetl all the way to New York City. It's overwhelming, awe-inspiring, and even dangerous, especially when she discovers that her sister has disappeared and she must now fend for herself. She finds work in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory sewing bodices on the popular shirtwaists. Raisa makes friends and even-dare she admit it?- falls in love. But then 1911 dawns, and one March day a spark ignites in the factory. One of the city's most harrowing tragedies unfolds, and Raisa's life is forever changed. . . . One hundred years after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, this moving young adult novel gives life to the tragedy and hope of this transformative event in American history.

30 review for Threads and Flames

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Aranda

    This historical fiction brought the traffic Triangle Waist Company's Fire of 1911 to life for me. In truth, I hadn't heard about the fire until I read the cover and inner sleeve of the book. Once I found out this book was based off a real event I knew I had to read it. When a person reads "A total of 146 workers died during the fire." it can very much read off as a fact. It is a fact but it is so much more than that. This novel serves as a reminder that all numbers we read about during a tragedy This historical fiction brought the traffic Triangle Waist Company's Fire of 1911 to life for me. In truth, I hadn't heard about the fire until I read the cover and inner sleeve of the book. Once I found out this book was based off a real event I knew I had to read it. When a person reads "A total of 146 workers died during the fire." it can very much read off as a fact. It is a fact but it is so much more than that. This novel serves as a reminder that all numbers we read about during a tragedy are much more than that. They are people! People whose lives were ended too soon and in a way they didn't deserve. Those who died affect even more people; their family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and everyone they've come into contact with are changed forever by their deaths. Tragedies have a way of reaching deep into people's souls, and this one was no exception. Besides the fire, Mrs. Friesner talks about the mental and emotional tolls for family members to be separated from one another. I've been apart from loved ones before, and still am sadly, so this part of the book resonated deeply with me. To miss someone so much and feel like you'll never see them again is very hard to feel and describe, but the author does a fabulous job. The immigration process was also a difficult one to go through around that time. Mrs. Friesner took some liberties with the process for that time but I feel it doesn't take anything away from the story. It still felt realistic to me. Mrs. Friesner brought to life characters that I feel are like my own family. I shared their fears, joys, mistakes, and hopes throughout the story. This historical fiction book will stay with me a long time. I highly recommend others give this book a try. Future me will be buying my own copy to reread in the future.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Fitzgerald

    This was a very special book for me. A month ago, my husband, son, and myself were standing in front of what was once the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Looking at the street below, and then back up at the top floors...imagining... The author did a marvelous job of writing about immigrating through Ellis Island and life on the Lower East Side Of New York City. This book had the flavor of another beloved one of mine in the same time setting, All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor. The scenes about th This was a very special book for me. A month ago, my husband, son, and myself were standing in front of what was once the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Looking at the street below, and then back up at the top floors...imagining... The author did a marvelous job of writing about immigrating through Ellis Island and life on the Lower East Side Of New York City. This book had the flavor of another beloved one of mine in the same time setting, All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor. The scenes about the Triangle Fire only encompass the latter chapters of the story. They are well-written and chilling to read, but I’m glad those were not the majority of the book. Above all, is a book about hope, love, and the good results that can happen when humans put the needs of others before their own.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Threads and Flames should have been terrible. I mean, an immigrant who sews? A factory that catches fire? Not my type of book at all. To my complete surprise, I was sucked in almost immediately. Raisa is a strong character that you want to root for. Her struggle in coming to America, and trying to make a life for herself while also searching for her sister was just totally enthralling. The story is written in a way that you feel as though you are seeing this new, strange world with Raisa for the Threads and Flames should have been terrible. I mean, an immigrant who sews? A factory that catches fire? Not my type of book at all. To my complete surprise, I was sucked in almost immediately. Raisa is a strong character that you want to root for. Her struggle in coming to America, and trying to make a life for herself while also searching for her sister was just totally enthralling. The story is written in a way that you feel as though you are seeing this new, strange world with Raisa for the very first time. Threads and Flames shines light on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, an event I'd imagine most people of my generation and younger haven't heard much about. More than the horror of what those workers experienced, it was an educational look at working conditions in the early 1900s. Raisa's experiences throughout Threads and Flames are highly emotional ones and the feelings really shine through the writing. Beyond being entertained and educated, I was emotionally invested in what happened to Raisa. I felt for her, was scared for her, rejoiced for her and ultimately fell in love with her and this story. Threads and Flames is a novel that will change the way you think about the world.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Focusing around the tragic Triangle Waist Shirtwaist Factory fire, 'Threads and Flames' starts off with a strong premise, backed with the historically and culturally-heavy times of the early 1900s. It stays true to the time period in which it takes place--racism, sexism, and all--and is not afraid to delve into those areas. However, the slightly lackluster characters and spotty pacing make it more of a chore than a simple leisure read. It is difficult to stay involved in at first, having an extre Focusing around the tragic Triangle Waist Shirtwaist Factory fire, 'Threads and Flames' starts off with a strong premise, backed with the historically and culturally-heavy times of the early 1900s. It stays true to the time period in which it takes place--racism, sexism, and all--and is not afraid to delve into those areas. However, the slightly lackluster characters and spotty pacing make it more of a chore than a simple leisure read. It is difficult to stay involved in at first, having an extremely slow beginning in which many essentially filler characters are thrown in, making it drag. The main character is also difficult to read, with no sure personality and character motivation until later in the book. Within the course of the first one hundred pages the main character, who is a Polish teenager named Raisa, manages to only just arrive in America's New York. It takes her another hundred or so pages to start the trek to resolve her main conflict (i.e. locating her missing sister). Also, one must have to get over half way into the book before they get what is on the tin--the factory fire takes place in chapter fourteen. There is romance, life-or-death situations, prostitutes, and history references galore within the 390 pages of this novel. Final verdict: not necessarily a bad read, but not something to be too excited about reading, either.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    I loved the fact that this novel delved so much into the immigrants' lives not just in terms of the infamous Triangle fire but also with regard to their day-to-day lives both before and after the fire. I could have done with a little less of putting characters' thoughts in italics and a little more show-don't-tell, but other than that, very well written & interesting. I really cared about the characters. I loved the fact that this novel delved so much into the immigrants' lives not just in terms of the infamous Triangle fire but also with regard to their day-to-day lives both before and after the fire. I could have done with a little less of putting characters' thoughts in italics and a little more show-don't-tell, but other than that, very well written & interesting. I really cared about the characters.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    All her life Raisa has dreamed of leaving her small Polish shetl and following her older sister to that golden land, America. At only thirteen years old however in 1910, she isn't the best equipped for traveling half-way across the world, alone, to a country she's never stepped foot in before. But Raisa is determined to reunite with her sister and begins her perilous journey across Europe, the ocean, before finally landing in Ellis Island, New York. Everything is new and confusing to young Raisa All her life Raisa has dreamed of leaving her small Polish shetl and following her older sister to that golden land, America. At only thirteen years old however in 1910, she isn't the best equipped for traveling half-way across the world, alone, to a country she's never stepped foot in before. But Raisa is determined to reunite with her sister and begins her perilous journey across Europe, the ocean, before finally landing in Ellis Island, New York. Everything is new and confusing to young Raisa who cannot read or write English (or even her own language) and who unexpectedly finds herself the caretaker of a young orphan toddler, Brina. Neither does America turn out to be the paradise Raisa expected either. Having no idea how to contact her sister, Raisa knows she must find a place for her and Brina while also finding a job in the sprawling city. Her only options are at small sweatshops or factories in the garment district. Even the most coveted positions at these factories are still no picnic as quickly Raisa learns one fateful Sunday morning. Esther Friesner took on a very ambitious project when she decided to bring Raisa's story of immigration to life in Threads and Flames. The sheer amount of trials Raisa faces would be enough to discourage even the most optimistic youth but Raisa doggedly keeps going, holding onto the hope that she will be able to find her sister, keep Brina off the streets, and learn English. As a character, you can't but help love Raisa. She's so very loyal and honest and fiercely determined to get what she wants out of life. It's no wonder so many people are drawn to her in the book - I would be too. Historical fiction is a genre I always enjoy and Threads and Flames proved to be a fascinating look at the challenges a youth would face in trying to immigrate to New York at the turn of the century. I particularly enjoyed Ms. Friesner's descriptions of the various cultural neighborhoods that immigrants naturally flocked too. How Italians would find other Italians, Jews looked for other Jews, etc. in order to infuse that area with their own language, culture, food, and religion. This mini-country within a country phenomenon obviously still remains today (although not as strongly) as evidenced by the many distinct cultural neighborhoods in New York. Even more intriguing was to learn that Esther Friesner based Raisa's tale on her own ancestors immigration experiences. Fascinating stuff. Even though Ms. Friesner obviously took the time to detail the tragedy and heartbreak experienced by those affected by the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, I felt as if she tried too hard to tie up a happily ever after for Raisa. Don't get me wrong, I was rooting for this hard-working girl from day one, but the eventual unfolding of events seemed a little forced in my mind. Other than that, Threads and Flames was a compelling read with a worthwhile message to tell that even the youngest historical fiction fan can enjoy.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    2.75. Not quite a 3, but more than a 2.5. This one started really slow. For about 100 pages, we're in Poland and we meet about 100 characters who don't matter much at all to the plot. It's jarring and difficult to care about the main character, Raisa, because she's immediately given a false name but then allowed to keep her real name. That didn't clarify a whole lot. But when I hit page 100 or so, and Raisa was on the boat to America, things really picked up. Suddenly she became a more interestin 2.75. Not quite a 3, but more than a 2.5. This one started really slow. For about 100 pages, we're in Poland and we meet about 100 characters who don't matter much at all to the plot. It's jarring and difficult to care about the main character, Raisa, because she's immediately given a false name but then allowed to keep her real name. That didn't clarify a whole lot. But when I hit page 100 or so, and Raisa was on the boat to America, things really picked up. Suddenly she became a more interesting character as she searched for a place to board and a place to work. The problem, though, was that it took forever for things to even get to her being at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, and then that entire aspect of the novel (which is the KEY to the story) lasted only a few pages. I was really disappointed. There was such opportunity to amp this up and really dig into the gravity of the situation. Instead, it really is sort of glossed over, even with the descriptions of people jumping from windows. For all the overdone description in the first 100 pages, getting so little here was a let down. I felt the end was too easy, given the rest of the story. (view spoiler)[ Raisa was determined to find her sister, and after thinking she lost her fiance in the Shirtwaist fire, suddenly she finds both him AND her sister and they happened to be in the same place? (hide spoiler)] I call phony. The pacing of the story was a little off. It dragged in parts and sped through other parts. The passage of time aspects were off kilter, as well. I really wanted more from this story. I was ready to give up at page 50, but I told myself to keep going since this is one of my favorite historical eras. The payoff, though, wasn't satisfying.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kristen Harvey

    Why I read this: I was sent this for review and noticed it was historical fiction and by Esther Friesner, who is awesome and I couldn't not read it. :) Plot: Set during the early 1900s in America, the book follows an immigrant character looking for her older sister who came over a few years earlier. Raisa has come over with her little sister Brina and must find work while she continues to look for her older sister. Ending up with work in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, she witnesses the tragedy Why I read this: I was sent this for review and noticed it was historical fiction and by Esther Friesner, who is awesome and I couldn't not read it. :) Plot: Set during the early 1900s in America, the book follows an immigrant character looking for her older sister who came over a few years earlier. Raisa has come over with her little sister Brina and must find work while she continues to look for her older sister. Ending up with work in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, she witnesses the tragedy of its fire. A moving and realistic plot, I fell in love with this novel. This time period in American history has always fascinated me and Friesner did a fantastic job writing this novel. Characters: I just ate up little Brina's character. Raisa herself is a strong character who doesn't give up and keeps leaving with hope that one day all three sisters will be reunited. Relatability: Fans of this time period in history will enjoy this novel. Cover Commentary: Gorgeous cover. Definitely fits the novel.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lily

    About the Triangle Waist Factory Fire, this one one of the the only books that has actually made me cry (view spoiler)[when Zusa was found dead (hide spoiler)] . It was stunningly well written, and told a great story. This book actually inspired me to learn more about the Triangle Factory Fire, and eventually write a report on it. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. All the characters were well developed, and the connections between the characters were very well developed. The story flowed along nice About the Triangle Waist Factory Fire, this one one of the the only books that has actually made me cry (view spoiler)[when Zusa was found dead (hide spoiler)] . It was stunningly well written, and told a great story. This book actually inspired me to learn more about the Triangle Factory Fire, and eventually write a report on it. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. All the characters were well developed, and the connections between the characters were very well developed. The story flowed along nicely, and brought all emotions to me. Happiness, sadness and anger. I loved it, and it was so refreshing to read a story like this, (as sad as it is) that's actually accurate historical fiction. It was great.

  10. 5 out of 5

    IRIS

    This book is one of my favorite book's. It show's the hardships of living in the early 1900's. Rosa, (the main character) goes to NY and starts work (with the help of friends and kind neighbors) in a shirtwaist factory. Rosa's spirit and kindness helps her along her journey and search for her long lost sister. This book is one of my favorite book's. It show's the hardships of living in the early 1900's. Rosa, (the main character) goes to NY and starts work (with the help of friends and kind neighbors) in a shirtwaist factory. Rosa's spirit and kindness helps her along her journey and search for her long lost sister.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lawral

    I think the best thing about Threads and Flames is that Friesner provides oodles of information and context without ever making me feel that I'm reading a book about the plight of immigrants or factory girls and how the injustices they faced lead to the tragedy of the Triangle fire. I was simply reading an engaging story about Raisa's new life in America, complete with a little bit of mystery, a little bit of (the cutest without being the least bit saccharine) romance, and a whole lot of my-gump I think the best thing about Threads and Flames is that Friesner provides oodles of information and context without ever making me feel that I'm reading a book about the plight of immigrants or factory girls and how the injustices they faced lead to the tragedy of the Triangle fire. I was simply reading an engaging story about Raisa's new life in America, complete with a little bit of mystery, a little bit of (the cutest without being the least bit saccharine) romance, and a whole lot of my-gumption-is-both-my-greatest-flaw-and-my-greatest-strength. And yet I finished the book knowing a lot about how the ill-treatment of immigrants in general and factory girls in particular created the perfect storm of awfulness that caused so many deaths in the fire. While the book is undoubtedly about the Triangle fire, Raisa doesn't even start working at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory until at least halfway through the book, maybe more. Usually, this delay of the "point" of the story would drive me batty, but in this instance, I didn't mind the wait. Raisa is such a fun character; she's so headstrong and determined to do what is right for her sisters, both Henda and Brina. It never occurs to her that she shouldn't take responsibility for Brina, even though she can barely take care of herself. I was rooting for her before she even got to Ellis Island. Raisa's little romance with Gavrel is also handled beautifully. When you're reading about Raisa who is on her own and working more than full time to make enough money to cover room and board for two people, it's easy to forget how young she is. Her relationship with Gavrel, however, with all of Raisa's do I or don't I feelings, constantly reminded me that she's just in her early teens. Their romance had all the little flutters of any middle grade romance, but with the added seriousness of two people, no matter how young, who work full time and both immediately start working even more when they "get serious." That's why they're both in the factory on the Saturday when it catches fire. The fire itself is gruesome. The rush for the elevators after finding all the doors locked, the description of girls jumping from the windows rather than dying the flames, the display of unclaimed bodies that Raisa must search for Gavrel afterwards. The broken families who either found bodies to claim or were left with nothing. It's all so harsh. We see it all through Raisa who is still so determined to do what's right, who finds another job right away, and who becomes the strength and stability that Brina and Gavrel's family need in the fire's aftermath. Watching her continue on was possibly just as, if not more, heartbreaking as the fire itself. Slightly spoilery: When the ending was happier than I would have expected, it did not feel like a cop-out on Friesner's part. I was just happy Raisa got a little bit of what she deserved. End spoiler. There was recently a request on the yalsa-bk list-serv for fiction books that teach the reader something. I wish I had finished reading this book in time to suggest it! Threads and Flames is so informative, but it's still great fiction too. I highly recommend it! Book source: Philly Free Library

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bookworm1858

    Threads and Flames by Esther Friesner Viking, 2010 386 pages YA; Historical 4/5 stars Source: Library Read for YA Overlooked Book Battle. This book was a great historical fiction novel with its main conflict coming from the famous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire on March 25, 1911 where the main character Raisa and most of her friends work. But that doesn't occur until near the end of the book. Raisa just managed to survive typhus in her Polish shtetl before she embarks on a journey to America to meet h Threads and Flames by Esther Friesner Viking, 2010 386 pages YA; Historical 4/5 stars Source: Library Read for YA Overlooked Book Battle. This book was a great historical fiction novel with its main conflict coming from the famous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire on March 25, 1911 where the main character Raisa and most of her friends work. But that doesn't occur until near the end of the book. Raisa just managed to survive typhus in her Polish shtetl before she embarks on a journey to America to meet her older sister Henda who has lived there for the past four years. On the boat, she befriends Zusa, a young woman about her age, and begins to take care of little Brina whose mother dies on the ship. Upon arrival, she begins to search for Henda. Unfortunately Henda had received a letter informing her of Raisa's death and is thus nowhere to be found. Luckily for Raisa, though, she finds a good room to let and soon starts earning money. Eventually all of the main young characters end up working for the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory leading to the fire that devastates a community and highlights the inequities of the American economic system. Raisa was a very brave girl; she turns fourteen on the ship over but she acts much more maturely than me and I'm twenty-one. She takes on the responsibility of caring for Brina and she works tirelessly to master sewing with a machine as well as learning English. Of course, she also gets to have fun with her friends Zusa, Italian immigrant Luciana, and dreamy Gavrel, the son of her landlords. The historical details were fantastic! Although this is not my time period, I felt very immersed in the world described. Although not much time is spent there, the worst part (and worst because accurate) was the descriptions of the sweatshops, awful places where the cloth is valued more than the people; as Friesner reminds us in her author's note, such places still exist, even in America where they ought not to. The description of the fire is also powerful with the confusion and the people who jumped out of the window in order to avoid being burned particularly grabbing me. Despite those sad facts, there is also the optimism of the American dream with Raisa looking to be a teacher and Gavrel looking to be a rabbi, which would give them a better life than they had known and give any children a better life too. The ending is pretty optimistic. My biggest quibble was the search for Henda. Raisa starts strong but as time passes and no sign of her emerges, her fears begin to master her. The way she finds Henda seemed way too coincidental to me and I rolled my eyes a little. However I'm glad that Raisa got to find out what happened to her sister so that's good. Overall: A good historical novel calling attention to the dark tragedies lurking in the American dream. Cover: I like the title within the charred fabric scraps or paper.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Margo Tanenbaum

    2011 marks the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire, one of the most important events in American labor history. This anniversary makes the release of Threads and Flames by Esther Friesner particularly timely. Friesner's novel opens in 1910, with thirteen-year old Raisa, recently recuperated from typhus, leaving her Polish shtetl to meet up with her sister Henda in America. After a long and difficult journey by cart, train, and ship, Raisa finally arrives in New York, only t 2011 marks the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire, one of the most important events in American labor history. This anniversary makes the release of Threads and Flames by Esther Friesner particularly timely. Friesner's novel opens in 1910, with thirteen-year old Raisa, recently recuperated from typhus, leaving her Polish shtetl to meet up with her sister Henda in America. After a long and difficult journey by cart, train, and ship, Raisa finally arrives in New York, only to learn that her sister has disappeared. With no job, no family, nowhere to live and unable to speak English, she seeks refuge in a synagogue, where she meets a kind young rabbinical student, Gavrel, whose mother just happens to have room for boarders. Soon Gavrel helps Raisa get a job where he works, at the very modern Triangle Shirtwaist factory in the Asch building. In addition to working long hours at the factory, Raisa goes to evening English classes where she dreams of becoming a teacher. She still hopes to find her sister, but how to do so in such a huge city? In telling Raisa's story, Friesner paints a rich picture of Jewish immigrant life at the turn of the century; we can almost smell the food at the markets and see the celebrations for the different Jewish holidays. But Raisa's life changes forever on a March afternoon, when fire breaks out on the 8th floor of the Triangle factory. Hundreds of desperate workers tried to get out, but the doors on the stairway that could have provided a safe exit were locked--locked because the owners were afraid the young girls who worked at the factory would steal. Some, like Raisa, escape on the elevator, running outside only to see the horrific sight of bodies plunging through the air, with their clothes and hair on fire. The fire department was quickly on the scene, but the ladders wouldn't reach the top floors, and the nets and blankets that firemen spread to catch the young women couldn't withstand the force of their falls. The horror of the fire's aftermath is vividly captured by Friesner, as survivors try to discover who has lived and who has died in the fire, going to huge make-shift morgues to try to identify the bodies, some of which were burned beyond recognition and never identified. In all 146 workers died, mostly Jewish and Italian young women who were recent immigrants like Raisa, some as young as fourteen years old. I could perhaps quibble about the ending of this engrossing novel, in which all the loose threads of the story are neatly tied together, but despite the perhaps unlikely ending, I felt this was a well-realized novel with characters that will greatly appeal to the intended teenage audience. Because the reader grows to care deeply about Raisa and her friends, the tragic events of the story come vividly to life.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey

    Threads and Flames was a well written and intriguing novel by seasoned YA author Esther Friesner. This was my first book by Esther, but it definitely won't be my last. She created a fantastic and inspiring main character and the historical details were flawless. I love historical fiction and Threads and Flames was no exception. Raisa was a determined and likable main character and my heart went out to her when things became dangerous or difficult. I haven't read too many books about teenage girl Threads and Flames was a well written and intriguing novel by seasoned YA author Esther Friesner. This was my first book by Esther, but it definitely won't be my last. She created a fantastic and inspiring main character and the historical details were flawless. I love historical fiction and Threads and Flames was no exception. Raisa was a determined and likable main character and my heart went out to her when things became dangerous or difficult. I haven't read too many books about teenage girls coming to America through Ellis Island so it was especially interesting to read Threads and Flames. For starters, Raisa was a character I liked right away. She never let anything distract her from her goals and she always stood up for what she believed in. The novel begins with Raisa recovering from typhus in her small Polish shtetl and deciding to move to America to be with her elder sister. Raisa's journey was inspiring and she stayed strong throughout, even when things got hard. The journey to America was surprisingly fast but Raisa met a lot of people on the ship that would greatly impact the rest of her journey. Brina and Zusa especially. I loved Brina, she was such a sweet toddler and she would be completely lost without Raisa taking her in. Zusa was another great character who helped Raisa adjust to life on the ship and translate things into Raisa's native Yiddish. It must have been especially frightening for Raisa arriving in Ellis Island because (1) she couldn't speak English (2) she couldn't read (3) she didn't have a job or know how to find her sister and (4) she had young Brina in her care. The inspection process at Ellis Island was the most frightening. One wrong move and you could be sent back to Europe, never to see your family again. Raisa met a variety of people in America who helped her succeed and thrive but there were still a lot of people who didn't have her best interests at heart. Her life was full of ups and downs as she settled into American life and I applaud her determination and strength at keeping both herself, and another, safe in the foreign new land. A lot occurs over the course of the novel, including a horrible fire that raged through the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in 1911. Readers take the journey of traveling from Poland to America with Raisa and experience all of her excitements and terrors of starting a new life. Esther Friesner brought to life a very important time in history. Overall, I definitely recommend picking this up. It's a terrific novel by a great author and I can't wait to read more by Esther Friesner. Raisa is a main character you will love and root for and the plot will keep you on the edge of your seat. Overall: 4.5 out of 5 stars

  15. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    After just barely surviving a deathly illness in her small Polish shtetl, thirteen year-old Raisa travels alone to America to find her older sister in 1910 New York City. When she arrives and can find no trace of her sister, Raisa finds a job to pay rent for herself and the young orphan, Brina, she took in during the voyage to the States. Despite the daily mind numbing work and despair over her lost sister, she begins to make a new life in her new home with friends and even love. But when a s After just barely surviving a deathly illness in her small Polish shtetl, thirteen year-old Raisa travels alone to America to find her older sister in 1910 New York City. When she arrives and can find no trace of her sister, Raisa finds a job to pay rent for herself and the young orphan, Brina, she took in during the voyage to the States. Despite the daily mind numbing work and despair over her lost sister, she begins to make a new life in her new home with friends and even love. But when a small spark ignites the scraps of fabric in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory where she works, and tragedy strikes, Raisa’s life may be changed forever. This year marks the 100th anniversary of this tragedy where 146 out of 500 workers perished in the fire. In recent years there have been several works based on this tragic story including Margaret Peterson Haddix’s Uprising and Mary Jane Auch’s Ashes of Roses among others. While I was familiar with the events of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, this was the first work of fiction that I had read on the topic and I admit that I am pleasantly surprised at how well Friesner did adapting her story to the historical events. At first I had difficulty getting into this novel. While the detail in this story is exquisite, it had a tendency to bog the story down making the pacing of the story a bit on the slow side. In the end, though, that detail is the saving grace of this novel. It invests you in the lives of the characters and will keep you reading, wanting to know what events lead Raisa to the tragic events of the fire. The characters in this novel are amazingly well developed and very believable. They envelope you in their stories and their hardships. You find yourself cheering for their triumphs and tearing up at their sorrows and setbacks. My only complaint about this novel was the predictability and the amazing number of coincidences that strain the reader’s credulity. Because this novel is based on historical events, you do know some of what was going to happen, but I didn’t expect to be able to predict the outcomes for many of the various characters. It almost seems that there was too much foreshadowing leading up to the closing events of the novel. Overall this is a touching and well written read. Despite my criticisms I did enjoy the book and love the characters. The novel was little hard to get into in the beginning, but worth sticking with to get to the end. Cautions for sensitive readers: Violence

  16. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    If I'd put it together earlier that Friesner also wrote Sphinx's Queen, I think I would have ended up skipping this entirely. This was a bit of a chore for me to work through, and has a lot of the same problems I saw in Sphinx's Queen. I need to pay better attention to who I'm reading... We're less than two weeks away from the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. It's been nine years since I read my first book on the tragedy, Ashes of Roses. It's still a terrible tragedy to read abo If I'd put it together earlier that Friesner also wrote Sphinx's Queen, I think I would have ended up skipping this entirely. This was a bit of a chore for me to work through, and has a lot of the same problems I saw in Sphinx's Queen. I need to pay better attention to who I'm reading... We're less than two weeks away from the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. It's been nine years since I read my first book on the tragedy, Ashes of Roses. It's still a terrible tragedy to read about. However, I feel there are much more powerful takes on this story - mainly ones that don't fall back on telling about important events, often via clunky and stilted dialog, over showing. Emotional and powerful moments, important to Raisa's development, were often only reflected on after the fact via dialog or inner monologues from Raisa. It was frustrating because this immigrant's story should be one of amazing highs and traumatic lows, but most of those except for the fire (and a few amazing coincidences near the end) happen off screen. Raisa and many of the supporting characters come across as far too saintly to be real - and the only character that deviates from this pattern is punished for it. It was frustrating because I felt like we never really get to know any of these people - even Raisa, the protagonist - because I know that real people just aren't this goodhearted 24/7, at least not in numbers as great as these. There were also some really awkward attempts at showing the grittiness of the Lower East Side in 1910-1911, but censoring that grit in the most obvious and unnecessary ways. When Raisa first arrives in New York, prostitutes are alluded to multiple times within just a few pages - but before anyone actually says the word they interrupt themselves, saying such things aren't fit for a young woman to hear. Once would have been understandable, but there were at least three awkward pauses like this in one chapter. Definitely overkill.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mara

    This was an almost completely different take on the Shirtwaist Factory fire compared to "Ashes of Roses." It was better in every respect. Where Rose was incapable of standing up for herself and only saw how coming to America had cut her family in half, Raisa is not at all afraid to look after herself, she's strong, and she does not at all have a victim attitude. She sees America as a place of opportunity, not a land of false promises, and she works hard to earn money and learn English and make a This was an almost completely different take on the Shirtwaist Factory fire compared to "Ashes of Roses." It was better in every respect. Where Rose was incapable of standing up for herself and only saw how coming to America had cut her family in half, Raisa is not at all afraid to look after herself, she's strong, and she does not at all have a victim attitude. She sees America as a place of opportunity, not a land of false promises, and she works hard to earn money and learn English and make a better place for herself in the world. Even when she finds herself in a sweatshop, she finds work elsewhere and tells her former boss good-day. Esther Friesner, too, presents a fairer view on things. While the immigration process is anything but pleasant, she doesn't paint it as an utterly inhumane process, where every single immigration officer was callous and rude. There are helpful immigrant officials and there are unhelpful ones. Just as there are unfair foremen/forewomen at the factories, and there are fair ones. Working conditions in factories were often harsh and the employees were often cheated, that's true - and Esther Friesner depicts this. But she also wonderfully informs the Reader that not all factories were like that. And while in "Ashes of Roses" the Author tried to make it sound like the Shirtwaist Factory fire was maybe intentionally started by the owners - or the shirtwaist kings, - Esther Friesner makes it clear that the only way the fire was their fault was having an unsafe building in the first place. And it is true: the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory was not a safe working environment. It's amazing a fire did not occur sooner, but to make it seem like the factory owners started it on purpose? Their guilt lie in neglect, which is unforgiveable, especially when one looks at how many people died because of it. But that isn't the same as intentionally starting a fire. All in all, I enjoyed "Threads and Flames" a lot more than "Ashes of Roses." It was tremendously fun being able to compare the two, and even more amazing to see how much different and enjoyable a balanced story was compared to one that was so one-sided. Thumbs up to Esther Friesner!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Violette

    There is always something magical, for me, about reading a historical book. If done correctly, I am immediately transported into a different era, and feel the story within my bones. "Threads and Flames" was so captivating that I could hardly stop thinking about what I had read - long after the pages of the book were closed. The book tells the fictionalized account of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire - an unfortunate event in which 146 young workers lost their lives. The story begins with Rais There is always something magical, for me, about reading a historical book. If done correctly, I am immediately transported into a different era, and feel the story within my bones. "Threads and Flames" was so captivating that I could hardly stop thinking about what I had read - long after the pages of the book were closed. The book tells the fictionalized account of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire - an unfortunate event in which 146 young workers lost their lives. The story begins with Raisa recovering from a long illness back in her shetl in Poland. The first 100 pages are devoted strictly to setup and character introduction. Although the book doesn't really pick up until Raisa starts her journey to the U.S., I truly didn't feel like the story dragged at all here. Raisa's journey was really interesting to read about. Although Friesner took some liberties when it came to explaining the immigration process, I felt that the reader was given just the perfect amount of information in order to interest, yet not bog down the story. As Raisa slowly starts to make her way in New York City, we are introduced to many characters that quickly become a major part of the story. I really felt that Friesner did a great job portraying the climate of early 1900's New York City - the hardships, stereotypes, and struggles were perfectly explained in a way that was suitable for a YA reader, sans the sugarcoating. Overall, there were just a few small complaints I had when it came to the pacing of the story, as well as the conclusion. The pacing seemed a little disjointed to me. Certain parts that seemed to play little importance in the story were dragged out, and others - such as the fire itself - seemed to happen far too quickly. The ending was also...a little too perfect for my liking. Everything was wrapped up in a neat little package that seemed a bit unbelievable. Truly, I am glad I read this book and I would recommend it to anyone, especially history buffs such as myself.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Samiyah

    I read "Threads and Flames" by Esther Friesner. "Threads and Flames" is about a girl name Raisa who leaves her small village and immigrates to New York City to find her sister Henda. On the boat to America Raisa meets a girl name Zusa and over the course of the trip they become close friends. They also meet a little girl named Brina who's mother dies on the trip and Raisa decides to take her in. When she arrives at her sister said to be address Henda is nowhere to be found. She searches for a bo I read "Threads and Flames" by Esther Friesner. "Threads and Flames" is about a girl name Raisa who leaves her small village and immigrates to New York City to find her sister Henda. On the boat to America Raisa meets a girl name Zusa and over the course of the trip they become close friends. They also meet a little girl named Brina who's mother dies on the trip and Raisa decides to take her in. When she arrives at her sister said to be address Henda is nowhere to be found. She searches for a boarder to stay with and has many failed tries until she runs into a Rabbi in training named Gravel who's family has space for two boarders. As the months go by she and Brina become a part of there family and she develops a relationship with Gravel. Months later she gets a job at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. One day the factory catches on fire and Zusa is killed along with hundreds of other people. Gravel and Luciana a girl who Zusa and Raisa met on the ship are thought to be dead soon but there soon found and reunited with there families. Soon after the fire Raisa finds Henda and she marries Gravel. I thought this book was very good. I felt that the beginning of the book was very long and boring. The beginning was also confusing. I thought the book redeemed itself as it progressed and it turned into a really good story. I liked the book and thought it was well explained. When they went to the pier to look at the dead bodies it really made feel like you were there. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a very heartfelt story that is beautifully written.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Threads and Flames tells the story of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, the deadliest industrial disaster in New York City history. I was given the impression that a lot of the book would focus on the fire, but the book focuses much more on Raisa’s life and what leads her to work at the factory. The fire is not until the last third of the novel, which surprised me, though I can’t say why. I supposed I was just expecting the fire to be a little bit more central to the novel. The novel is much Threads and Flames tells the story of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, the deadliest industrial disaster in New York City history. I was given the impression that a lot of the book would focus on the fire, but the book focuses much more on Raisa’s life and what leads her to work at the factory. The fire is not until the last third of the novel, which surprised me, though I can’t say why. I supposed I was just expecting the fire to be a little bit more central to the novel. The novel is much better in the middle than it is in the beginning and the end. Friesner’s writing is clumsy, moralizing, and stilted in places, especially apparent at the beginning, the end, and in the places where Raisa’s thoughts take up most of the page. Some of the antagonism of the book sometimes comes across as forced, such as the woman whom Raisa first works for who is almost melodramatically villainish, and most of the moments that are the most tense or the most meaningful seem too moralizing, probably because of Friesner’s tendency to tell, not show. However, the middle of the book flows really well, probably because it’s absent of most of the significant and/or tense moments, and was my favorite part of the book. Friesner is certainly no Ruta Sepetys, but Raisa’s story is mostly engaging and keeps the reader interested into the end, even with the flaws. It’s a pity that the writing style is so obvious and preachy; otherwise, this book would have been excellent. Instead, Threads and Flames is good, but not a novel I would immediately recommend.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ariana

    This book was a surprise for me. I didn't expect myself to like Raisa so much. She also surprised me - she stood up for herself, and for the first time in a long time I found myself wanting to be like a character in a book. You know the type - strong, the type who says what she's thinking. I always want to be like that but I don't like confrontations (though friends and all think differently). But i'm not here to talk about me, i'm talking about raisa! and gavrel! ahh! ahh! Here's a girl who can This book was a surprise for me. I didn't expect myself to like Raisa so much. She also surprised me - she stood up for herself, and for the first time in a long time I found myself wanting to be like a character in a book. You know the type - strong, the type who says what she's thinking. I always want to be like that but I don't like confrontations (though friends and all think differently). But i'm not here to talk about me, i'm talking about raisa! and gavrel! ahh! ahh! Here's a girl who can love somebody but not talk about him every other page! love that about raisa, and LOVE that about gavrel. He is so awesome and so funny and so sweet but he doesn't take up the whole book. He is a good solid character without overwhelming. I really like their relationship and how it forms although Raisa was a little annoying about wanting to keep it a secret. The work situations and her coming to America i found really ... really real . Love this book and it was not a waste of time. It wasn't a book I could get totally absorbed in, but it was a good book. A really good book. I found myself thinking about it a lot and couldn't wait to finish it! Couldn't wait to finish what happens to her and if she finds Helda and I LOVE BRINA SO MUCH she is so cute and awesome and funny and STRONG! XD and her name is awesome. but Garvel got himself together quickly after "hearing her name", i have to say... but it was sweet. :))))) Liked this book a lot. :D

  22. 5 out of 5

    Leanne

    I wish this wasn't marked as "about" the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, because while that's included in this, this is way more character-driven than it is centered around the drama concerning the infamous fire of 1911. As someone who love historical fiction that centers around a cast of characters and reading about how the events of history mold and shape their lives, I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected I would, even the "slow" parts of the beginning, while Raisa is adjusting to America I wish this wasn't marked as "about" the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, because while that's included in this, this is way more character-driven than it is centered around the drama concerning the infamous fire of 1911. As someone who love historical fiction that centers around a cast of characters and reading about how the events of history mold and shape their lives, I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected I would, even the "slow" parts of the beginning, while Raisa is adjusting to America. And I thought the romance between her and Gavrel was adorable; it's nice to see a romantic lead who's not "mysterious" and "sullen" or whatever, but instead fun-loving, sweet. I wasn't quite sure I liked though (view spoiler)[how quickly Gavrel "got over" his comatose state when Raisa found him. I thought for something that, clearly the author was sympathetic too considering Raisa's thoughts and how Mrs. Kamensky's grief was handled, that the bit with Gavrel was a bit fast, wrapped up too easy. (hide spoiler)] But I would definitely recommend this to someone who is a more-than-casual historical fiction fan, with the depth of research that Friesner put into not just the subject of the Fire, but 1910~ New York as a whole. Not sure I would recommend it though to someone who just likes light YA. I can see where this wouldn't be their kind of book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ariell

    Wow, I am glad it all came together in the end. I don't mind some tragedy, and considering this fictional story has true historical events involved that were truly catastrophic, I appreciate that she found a way to close it in a satisfying manner. I hate spoilers so I won't go into detail. If you've read the cover you know that is based around the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire. That really happened. I love historical fiction just for the history lesson I get. It always sparks my interest in th Wow, I am glad it all came together in the end. I don't mind some tragedy, and considering this fictional story has true historical events involved that were truly catastrophic, I appreciate that she found a way to close it in a satisfying manner. I hate spoilers so I won't go into detail. If you've read the cover you know that is based around the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire. That really happened. I love historical fiction just for the history lesson I get. It always sparks my interest in the the actual event it is highlighting. This is one of those books where I had a constantly growing, on the verge of nail chewing, irritation that things were going to end in frustration. I began to expect that she would end the book with tragedy and a line about how people become stronger by suffering or something as disappointing. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate when and ho people grow from trials. But when I am reading fiction I want there to be a glorious miracle or at least a better than happy-despite-the-fact-that-I-have-lost-everything-dear-to-me-and-am-better-for-it ending. So, thank you Esther M. Friesner, for gratifying my novel reading experience with a great story with an ending worth remembering.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ashley - Book Labyrinth

    The beginning of this novel has a bit of a slower pace, but very quickly I became wrapped up in Raisa’s story, caring about her and wanting her to succeed. ‘Threads and Flames’ presents such an interesting account of what it must have been like as an immigrant coming to America and living in poverty. This is a story that involves religious persecution, the reality of social classes, and working conditions for the poor. Even though the whole book was mesmerizing, the events described within the la The beginning of this novel has a bit of a slower pace, but very quickly I became wrapped up in Raisa’s story, caring about her and wanting her to succeed. ‘Threads and Flames’ presents such an interesting account of what it must have been like as an immigrant coming to America and living in poverty. This is a story that involves religious persecution, the reality of social classes, and working conditions for the poor. Even though the whole book was mesmerizing, the events described within the last 1/3 (or less) of the book are the most hard hitting. This book is centred around the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, a real life event that happened in 1911. It’s absolutely heartbreaking to read about, especially once I did a little research and realized that almost all the events of the fire that Esther Friesner wrote about actually happened. The characters in this book are amazing. You will love Raisa and want so desperately for her to be safe and happy and to find some hope. Other side characters are just as lovely, especially Gavrel. This is a book with tons of emotional intensity which quietly grabs your heart as you read through its pages.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lyssa Sue Shaffer

    An amazing look to the past. This book is so profoundly moving, I cried as I read it, then I laughed of course. This is a novelization of the events leading up to & after the Triangle Shirt Factory Fire in New York City. It follows the life of a young Jewish woman from Poland, her life there & her passage to America. Her search for family & work lead her to sewing for the owner of the Triangle Factory. The fire & its aftermath changed labor relations law as well as health & safety practices in th An amazing look to the past. This book is so profoundly moving, I cried as I read it, then I laughed of course. This is a novelization of the events leading up to & after the Triangle Shirt Factory Fire in New York City. It follows the life of a young Jewish woman from Poland, her life there & her passage to America. Her search for family & work lead her to sewing for the owner of the Triangle Factory. The fire & its aftermath changed labor relations law as well as health & safety practices in the workplace all across America. Imagine being in the shoes of the workers, realizing the building is burning & that all the fire escapes & doors have been chained shut. That you are multiple stories above the ground & that the fire department has no ladders that can reach you in time... Now think about the families of the dead sitting in the courtroom day after day waiting for justice to be invoked.. the judge's decision? Read it & learn, learn of the recovery process for those injured, how they coped with the loss of the jobs, their identities & their homes.. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is a must read. I feel that this book should be on the classics list next to the Diary of Anne Frank & To Kill a Mockingbird.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Int'l librarian

    Lots of very interesting history here, and Friesner does all she can to alert readers to her various messages. I know a lot more now about Jewish society in New York City, and the garment industry, and most specifically the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911. I like Raisa, the main character. She’s a very mature 14-year-old, having traveled on her own from Poland to the US. There are several very well-written scenes, but the fire itself is the horrific centerpiece. It’s hard to get a sense Lots of very interesting history here, and Friesner does all she can to alert readers to her various messages. I know a lot more now about Jewish society in New York City, and the garment industry, and most specifically the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911. I like Raisa, the main character. She’s a very mature 14-year-old, having traveled on her own from Poland to the US. There are several very well-written scenes, but the fire itself is the horrific centerpiece. It’s hard to get a sense of what exactly is happening, and how Raisa struggles to escape. Kind of like what it must have felt like to be caught in all the flames and screaming panic. I liked some aspects of the ending more than others, and I feel a bit guilty for liking it at all, given how miraculously saccharine it was. At 390 pages, there’s plenty of opportunity to pack in the teachable moments: pogroms in Europe, the immigrant journey across the Atlantic, Ellis Island, child trafficking, organized labor; it’s all part of the plot fabric. Too many times, the dialogue seems like it’s only there to make sure everybody understands how important the history is. I’m a history major and a librarian. I love learning through fiction. But more subtlety, and more editing, might be in order.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    "Threads and Flames" is historical fiction at its best! It features Raisa, a spunky Jewish girl at the turn of the 20th century who has emigrated to America from a tiny Polish town. She is on her own from the start (although she makes some great friends and gains a "cousin" on the ship over) and is dismayed when she gets to America and can't find her older sister who sent for her. She manages to find boarding, and a job, even a beau! Unfortunately the job she finds is at the Triangle Shirtwaist "Threads and Flames" is historical fiction at its best! It features Raisa, a spunky Jewish girl at the turn of the 20th century who has emigrated to America from a tiny Polish town. She is on her own from the start (although she makes some great friends and gains a "cousin" on the ship over) and is dismayed when she gets to America and can't find her older sister who sent for her. She manages to find boarding, and a job, even a beau! Unfortunately the job she finds is at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. She doesn't mind it too much at first: the work is monotonous, but she is treated better than she has been at other jobs. She goes to work on March 25, 1911 thinking it's just like any other day. But March 25, 1911 was the day of the infamous Triangle Factory Fire. Raisa manages to escape with her life, but can't find her friends or her fiancé. Did they survive, or were they among the many who either burned or plunged to their deaths? "Threads and Flames" paints a vivid picture both of the fire and of life almost 100 years ago. I'd recommend it to girls ages 10 - 13, whether they are history buffs or not!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mrs. Nelson's

    "Threads and Flames" is historical fiction at its best! It features Raisa, a spunky Jewish girl at the turn of the 20th century who has emigrated to America from a tiny Polish town. She is on her own from the start (although she makes some great friends and gains a "cousin" on the ship over) and is dismayed when she gets to America and can't find her older sister who sent for her. She manages to find boarding, and a job, even a beau! Unfortunately the job she finds is at the Triangle Shirtwaist "Threads and Flames" is historical fiction at its best! It features Raisa, a spunky Jewish girl at the turn of the 20th century who has emigrated to America from a tiny Polish town. She is on her own from the start (although she makes some great friends and gains a "cousin" on the ship over) and is dismayed when she gets to America and can't find her older sister who sent for her. She manages to find boarding, and a job, even a beau! Unfortunately the job she finds is at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. She doesn't mind it too much at first: the work is monotonous, but she is treated better than she has been at other jobs. She goes to work on March 25, 1911 thinking it's just like any other day. But March 25, 1911 was the day of the infamous Triangle Factory Fire. Raisa manages to escape with her life, but can't find her friends or her fiancé. Did they survive, or were they among the many who either burned or plunged to their deaths? "Threads and Flames" paints a vivid picture both of the fire and of life almost 100 years ago. I'd recommend it to girls ages 10 - 13, whether they are history buffs or not! --Review by Lauren

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jo Oehrlein

    The main characters are teenagers, but it seems more like a book for older children than teens, although the material is very hard. You're about 3/4 of the way through before you get to the fire, though. The desperation in the factory is bad, but there are pretty vivid descriptions of people falling and jumping, viewing at the temporary morgue, the coffin for unidentified "pieces", etc. The book is more a story about a Jewish immigrant to NYC at that time, how weird it was to travel, the bad thing The main characters are teenagers, but it seems more like a book for older children than teens, although the material is very hard. You're about 3/4 of the way through before you get to the fire, though. The desperation in the factory is bad, but there are pretty vivid descriptions of people falling and jumping, viewing at the temporary morgue, the coffin for unidentified "pieces", etc. The book is more a story about a Jewish immigrant to NYC at that time, how weird it was to travel, the bad things about being in steerage, the strangeness of the Ellis Island experience, the vultures meeting the new immigrants, trying so hard to find a job and a place to stay, not being able to understand or be understood, etc. It also shows blunt and blatant anti-semitism from people who act like what they're saying couldn't possibly be offensive and describes a pogrom in Russia. It does show some of the people doing good things: the Education Alliance and the teachers there, the benevolent societies of the various shtetls, people who come to care about each other as family even though they're not related, etc. There's definitely a HEA ending, though, with all threads nicely tied up.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    While not quite as emotionally powerful as Haddix's Uprising, Friesner still creates characters and setting that are believable. I became quite attached to Raisa, Brina, Gavrel, and the rest. Raise comes to America to escape her Jewish Shtetl. She plans to meet up with her sister, Henda, in New York. But when she gets there with a young girl she has taken under her wing, she finds her sister missing. Frantically, Raisa looks for her sister, but first she must find a place to live and a job to su While not quite as emotionally powerful as Haddix's Uprising, Friesner still creates characters and setting that are believable. I became quite attached to Raisa, Brina, Gavrel, and the rest. Raise comes to America to escape her Jewish Shtetl. She plans to meet up with her sister, Henda, in New York. But when she gets there with a young girl she has taken under her wing, she finds her sister missing. Frantically, Raisa looks for her sister, but first she must find a place to live and a job to support herself and Brina. She meets Gavrel, a garment worker and a rabbi in training. She moves in with his family and finally finds work in a sweatshop. With her dreams of an education and finding her sister, Raisa must find a way past the terrible conditions and mind-numbing, exhausting work at the Triangle Waist Company. And then the fire occurs and the life Raisa's has dreamed about hangs in the balance. Friesner does a fine job telling Raisa's story.

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