THREADS AND FLAMES

Raisa's sister, Henda, has earned enough money to send for Raisa to join her in the goldineh medina of America. When Raisa arrives in 1910 New York from her Polish shtetl, she finds Henda missing. Responsible for supporting both herself and a newly orphaned toddler, Raisa finds a job at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Raisa's friends, described in language rich with the cadences of Yiddish, each have jealousies, loves and flaws; they're not mere trajectories toward tragedy. But tragedy does strike, with the real-life factory fire that killed 146 workers. Vivid description of the deaths—of workers trapped on higher floors or leaping from windows to choose a faster death—unavoidably invites comparisons with another, more recent tragedy. The comparison serves the novel well; when the prose isn't strong enough for sufficient horror, visceral memories of 9/11 will do the trick (at least for those readers old enough to remember). After some tear-jerking, the happy conclusion comes too suddenly—shockingly so. The journey, however, is satisfying enough on its own. (Historical fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-670-01245-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2010

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A tale driven by its informational purpose, with only a short story’s worth of plot.

LOST CAUSE

From the Seven (The Series) series

Posthumous messages and tantalizing clues send a teenager from Canada to Barcelona in search of a hidden chapter from his beloved grandfather’s past.

One of a septet of simultaneously published novels, all by different authors and featuring cousins who are each left a mission or task in their shared grandfather’s will, this takes Steve to Spain, where he discovers that his elder relative was a member of the International Brigades. He is guided by his grandfather’s old journal and also by Laia, an attractive young resident of the city who lectures him on the Spanish Civil War while taking him to several local memorial sites. Steve slowly gains insight into how it felt to believe passionately in a cause—even, in this case, a doomed one—and then to lose that innocent certainty in the blood and shock of war. The storyline is, though, at best only thin glue for a series of infodumps, and readers will get a stronger, more specific view of that conflict’s drama and course from William Loren Katz’s Lincoln Brigade: A Pictorial History (1989).

A tale driven by its informational purpose, with only a short story’s worth of plot. (map and family tree, not seen) (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-55469-944-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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In the spirit of Jane Yolen's The Devil's Arithmetic (1988), with a mix of historical details about the women's-suffrage...

BLUE THREAD

Travels in time give a middle-class girl the courage to fight for both women's suffrage and her own dreams.

Sixteen-year-old Miriam, lover of typography, wants nothing more than to train at her father's print shop. But respectable, well-to-do girls don't work with heavy machinery in 1912 Portland, Ore. Miriam's immigrant Jewish parents, proud of the future they've built from poverty, intend an advantageous marriage for their only living child. If befriending a lovely pair of poor young suffragists isn't enough to make Miriam rebel, what is? Perhaps time travel is what she needs. Miriam is visited by her biblical relative, Serakh, who begs Miriam to travel back in time to help her ancestors. The daughters of Zelophehad seek a favor from Moses, and Miriam is needed to provide them with courage. Miriam pops back and forth between worlds: well-to-do Portland, where she makes morning calls and attends fancy-dress parties; biblical Moab; and the equally exotic, alien environment of suffragist marches and working-class neighborhoods. It takes all three to help her find the initiative, empathy and common sense to help push her toward adulthood.

In the spirit of Jane Yolen's The Devil's Arithmetic (1988), with a mix of historical details about the women's-suffrage movement and early printing, tied together with a very Jewish thread of historical continuity . (Historical fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-932010-41-1

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Ooligan Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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