THREADS AND FLAMES by Esther M. Friesner


Age Range: 11 - 13
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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. 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-670-01245-9
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2010


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