Thursday, March 15, 2012

Book Spotlight #1: Threads and Flames

Ooh la la! A NEW feature! Yessir! Book Spotlight is something new I wanted to introduce to this blog.

Basically, I am a giant book nerd and sometimes read books that really put me onto new concepts, ideas, or give me more in-depth knowledge about something I knew little about before. Where the "giant nerd" part comes in is when I put the book aside, and start reading about those side concepts that utterly fascinate me - the book I am currently reading has done a very good job of that. So, without further ado, I'd like to introduce my very first book spotlight for..."Threads and Flames" by Esther Friesner!

Synopsis: It's 1910, and thirteen-year-old Raisa has just traveled alone from a small Polish shtetl all the way to New York City. It's overwhelming, awe-inspiring, and even dangerous, especially when she discovers that her sister has disappeared and she must now fend for herself. She finds work in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory sewing bodices on the popular shirtwaists. Raisa makes friends and even-dare she admit it?- falls in love. But then 1911 dawns, and one March day a spark ignites in the factory. One of the city's most harrowing tragedies unfolds, and Raisa's life is forever changed. . . .

One hundred years after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, this moving young adult novel gives life to the tragedy and hope of this transformative event in American history.


The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire was the deadliest industrial accident in the history of New York City. 146 garment workers died as a result of smoke inhalation, fire, or falling 8-9 stories. The majority of the victims were young women - recent immigrants - between the ages of 16 and 23. The entire event lasted 18 minutes and changed history.

On the right, you see a picture of firemen working to extinguish the flames in the top three floors that were occupied by the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Unfortunately, at that time, fire ladders only reached to the 6th floor and could not be used in the rescue of workers.

March 25th marks the 101st anniversary of the fire. 

The event really helped to expose the horrible conditions for workers within factories in the rapidly developing country - most of whom were women and children. As it became very obvious that many of the lives could have been saved - were it not for those conditions - the public rallied to push factory reform, and helped spur the Union movement.

Overall it was a tragedy that could have been avoided were it not for the locked doors (owners only allowed for one entrance to be open due to fear of theft), and the cramped spacing that allowed for very little movement on the floor.

Pictured left is a collapsed fire escape that could not withstand the amount of people who rushed to it, as their only means of escape.

For more information, check out Cornell University's comprehensive site, which features source documents, tons of pictures, and much more!


Esther Frieser's book first captured my attention when it was mentioned as one of the 112 books picked as the "2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults" via YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association). Stay tuned for my review, coming soon!

Other fictional YA books about the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire include:

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