by Esther M Friesner


In 1910, 14 year old Raisa leaves her tiny Polish shtetl to join her older sister, Henda, in New York City, but when she arrives Henda is nowhere to be found. With luck, perseverance, and the help of friends she meets along the way, Raisa eventually manages to support herself and her orphaned ward on the wages she earns at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory - a factory whose name is about to become an infamous part of labor history. 

Friesner uses engaging prose to tell a story about the tenacity of immigrant life at the beginning of the twentieth century, and of the hardships those immigrants faced while chasing the promise of the American Dream. While Friesner does have a tendency to give narrative weight to possible plotlines which never play out, Raisa's determination to do everything she can to achieve her goals is apparent on every page and difficult not to root for. Threads and Flames is an excellent introduction to some of the key labor issues of the early 20th century and in parts of the world today. 

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