Tuesday, June 14, 2011
The Book that Made Me Weep
I'm a big fan of historical fiction. I would love to write historical...but I know I'm not ready for the time I'd have to put into the research. Not yet. One day. (It takes me long enough to write a book with just minimal check-my-facts research.)
I've read a couple other books by Margaret Peterson Haddix. While most of her books have a supernatural bent, Uprising is about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York City on March 25, 1911. It is told from the perspective of three very different girls--friends--one a society girl and two who are immigrants from Russia and Italy. From the beginning you know that only one survives the fire, although you don't know which one. The story is beautiful. The characters are very real, bringing to life the real-life victims of the fire one hundred years ago.
I hadn't heard about the fire until I read this book, but did you know that it was the biggest workplace disaster to happen in NYC before 9-11? Fire standards in the workplace were changed as a result of this tragedy, and it played a big role in the suffrage movement. (There was a huge strike the year before the fire, which the girls of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory participated in and which many wealthy suffrage supporters funded. In fact, the strike takes up a large portion of the book's story.) So it has a pretty incredible part in history.
When I read the end, I cried. Then the next day when I was driving I might have cried some more. They didn't have to die in that fire. Doors were locked. There was an inadequate number of fire escapes because the rich people in that district didn't like the look of them. The fire hose didn't work. The firemen's ladders didn't reach high enough. Their nets weren't strong enough to catch the falling bodies.
I highly recommend this book. I loved it. In fact, I can say this about very few books...but it changed me.