Monday, January 30, 2012

Review of Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Title: Uprising
Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix
Published by: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Pages: 272
Source: Borrowed from a friend
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★★

Summary from Goodreads: Bella, newly arrived in New York from Italy, gets a job at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. There, along with hundreds of other immigrants, she works long hours at a grueling job under terrible conditions. Yetta, a coworker from Russia, has been crusading for a union, and when factory conditions worsen, she helps workers rise up in a strike. Wealthy Jane learns of the plight of the workers and becomes involved with their cause.

Bella and Yetta are at work -- and Jane is visiting the factory -- on March 25, 1911, when a spark ignites some cloth and the building is engulfed in fire, leading to one of the worst workplace disasters ever.

When I first heard about this book I really had to reach back into my memories of high school which is the last time I had a U.S. history course.  I remember learning about women working in factories and how their unfair treatment led to support of the suffrage movement, but I didn't remember anything about the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.  I'm not sure if it wasn't taught or if I wasn't paying attention that day, but either way I think I really missed out on an important piece of history.  Good thing it's never too late to learn.

Bella and Yetta are both immigrants who work at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.  They work 6 days a week, 10-14 hour days, with poor pay ($4 a week, yikes and I thought I was underpaid) and are treated poorly.  They are locked in all day long, forced to pay for the electricity and heat used when they are working and are searched every evening to make sure they didn't steal anything.  Soon the worker got fed up and go on strike.  Yetta was very involved in the union and the strike effort.  I really admired how dedicated she was.  She was really a revolutionist and wanted only to be treated fairly.  She was beat, harassed, arrested and fined, but the next day she was back on the picket line.  That girl had some serious heart.  Bella was definitely more demure.  She came from a very poor family, but was genuinely a happy person.  She was very generous, loving and caring. 

Jane was a rich socialite who realized how unfair her society was treating the factory girls.  Jane gives up everything for what she believes in.  I think she is truly amazing.  As much as I care for things and fight for causes I believe in, I don't know if I could cut myself off from my family and become penniless for someone else's cause.  These three girls connect and become friends under the most unlikely of circumstances.  Just when things are starting to look up for Yetta, Bella, and Jane a terrible fire erupts at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory that changes all of their futures. 

This book was a truly wonderful look at the life of a factory girl.  It examined their hardships, but also the friendships they made.  If you are a fan of historical fiction this book is for you.

6 comments:

  1. Holy Crow! $4 a week? Yeah, I'm not likely to complain about being underpaid again... well, not anytime soon. LOL

    I think saying Yetta has heart is an under statement. After going through all of that, sounds like she as an iron will or something.

    I like range of characters here. They seem to keep the story moving.

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  2. I think I started reading this book back in middle school but I never finished it. I've read quite a few books on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory disaster and I've always love learning about it!

    Maybe I'll pick this one up again. Thanks for the review, Lisa!

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  3. who died in the fire

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    1. read the BOOK ;( and you will see

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  4. Great book. I thought it would be boring because it was historical fiction but it was actually quite interesting. I love how it could be funny a little bit and the next minute you are crying. Great description. sad that 2/3 of the main characters dies :(

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  5. Who were the people that beat Yetta up? Weren't they called Strike breakers or somthing?

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