Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Threads and Flames
I feel like I lived in this book while I read it. The descriptions were so vivid and engrossing that every time I opened the book I walked right in. I knew exactly what it felt like to be an immigrant in the early 1900s in New York, because I was one. Sweat shops and factories and learning English and arriving from a different country... I experienced it all. This book is based on the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire that happened on March 25, 1911. We're coming up on the 100 year anniversary of this devastating fire that didn't have to happen. If only working conditions had been better. If only companies didn't lock their employees in because they were afraid of theft. If only firetruck ladders had reached higher than the sixth floor, maybe all those people trapped in the eigth, ninth, and tenth floors could have escaped the fire. Be prepared to feel some terrifying emotions. Seeing this experience through the eyes of a fictional character makes it come alive. All those people who died will not be just names, but faces and families and backstories. This is why I love historical fiction. If you read this book, be prepared to be moved, and if you're at all like me, be prepared to cry. Just warning you.
If you want to learn more about the Triangle Shirtwait Factory fire, PBS recently did a documentary on it which you can watch online. Just look under the American Experience link.