"The firemen--impossibly tiny, down there on the ground--were
indeed holding out nets, standing there so hopefully. Yetta could
have laughed at their hopes. It was not exactly a plan Jacob was
offering her, not exactly a chance, in the nets and the ladder. But
it was something beside flame.
Jacob bowed to Yetta, as elegantly as if they were about to
launch themselves onto a dance floor, instead of into thin air. He
would have been a good dance partner, Yetta thought with an ache. He
wrapped his arms around Yetta; she wrapped her arms around him.
And then they jumped."
Margaret Peterson Haddix's Uprising is a cautionary tale that
should have us all up in arms. It's a narrative of what can go
terribly wrong when corporate greed is unrestrained. It is also the
poignant story of three young women from wildly differing backgrounds,
thrown together by fate and then grown together into solidarity.
Bella's father is dead. She has crossed the Atlantic Ocean from
Italy, hoping to save her starving mother and siblings. She hopes to
send them money to help them survive until she can afford their ship
tickets. America is a frightening place, offering only squalid living
quarters and brutal work conditions. But as long as she can keep her
loved ones alive...
Yetta has left her Russian shtetl to join her older sister,
Rahel, in America. Working under abusive conditions, she hungers for a
strike and union protection. Then she and so many other girls and
women will enjoy adequate pay, shorter hours, and safer working
Jane is the pampered only daughter of an industrialist. She
cannot even dress herself without the help of maids. She feels
stifled by all the rules she must follow and the constant presence of
her overbearing chaperone. A growing awareness of the women's suffrage
movement has her painfully aware of her inferior position in a men's
world. Even her own father, who should have her best interests at
heart, wants to marry her off to enhance his business prospects.
Told through their alternating voices, a heroic garment workers'
strike and the devastating Triangle Shirtwaist fire come vividly to
life. The combination of beguiling protagonists and a suspenseful
plot make Uprising impossible to put down. But do not attempt to read
Uprising without a hankie at hand. I am writing this review with
tears in my eyes.
Haddix cautions us that as long as greed continues to trump all
else we cannot grow complacent. Even in the twenty-first century
innocent people die in factory fires due to the same kind of safety
violations that killed 146 workers back in the day.
"...Both the Thai and the Bangladeshi factories were making
products for the American market. Like the shirtwaist-wearing college
girls in 1909, we have to ask ourselves what responsibility we bear
for the people who make our clothes and other possessions.
The Triangle fire may have happened nearly a century [the book
was published in 2007] ago, but its ghosts have reason to haunt us
And that is another reason to read the book.
On a personal note, UMaine had another really successful Red Cross
blood drive. I donated the first day and volunteered at canteen the
second. Lisa, who runs it all, says I'm the best canteen volunteer.
I say, with Jules the joint is jumping. Oh, yeah!
Today Maine is digging out from a blizzard that dumped over two feet
of snow on Penobscot County with the next snow event and its potential
for another foot of the white stuff just about on our doorstep.
A great big shout out goes out to all who worked, volunteered, and
donated in the blood drive and the people like my husband who plow
right in the teeth of the storms.
Sent from my iPod