Author: Jacqueline Davies
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school library
Summary (from the inside flap): Essie can tell from the moment she lays eyes on harriet Abbott: this is a woman who has taken a wrong turn in life. Why else would an educated, well-dressed, clearly upper-crust girl end up in the Triangle Shirtwaist FActory setting sleeves for six dollars a week? But Harriet isn't the only one who is lost. Essie wanders between the opposing emotions of her love for the young would-be lawyer who lives next door and her hatred for her mother who seems determined to take away every bit of happiness that Essie hopes to find. As the unlikely friendship between Essie and Harriet grows, so does the weight of the questions hanging between them: Who is lost? And who will be found? This is the powerful novel about friendship, loss, and the resiliency of the human spirit, set against the backdrop of the teeming crowds and scrappy landscape of the lower East Side of Manhattan in the early 1900s.
Review: I really enjoy good historical fiction, especially if it doesn't feel like I am learning about history or a historical era (and this from a former history teacher!). Jacqueline Davies does such a wonderful job of painting the New York neighborhood of the early 1900s, of showing American poverty of the working class, and what it was like for girls who did piece work in the factories. Life was difficult and didn't hold much enjoyment for the main character, Essie. She only had two bright spots in her day: taking care of and spending time with Zelda, her younger sister and making hats.
The friendship between Hattie (the new girl at the factory) and Essie is nice; it builds slowly but is intense, both girls having found someone to fill a void that they felt. Essie helps Hattie find her way in the new world of a working girl while Hattie provides Essie with friendship and music.
I don't want to give any of the story away because so much comes together at the end with both characters' worlds changing in dramatic ways. One of my favorite parts of the book is the Afterward in which Jacqueline Davies explains the real events that took place in New York City in the early 1900s and how she adapted them to create her story.
If you enjoy historical fiction, tales of hardship, friendship, and intrigue, then this is the book for you!
Do you like historical fiction? What are some of your favorites?