Saturday, June 11, 2011

Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Rating: ****
Genre: Historical fiction
Pages: 346
Bella is an Italian immigrant, confused by the noisy, jostling streets of New York, trying to make enough money in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory to bring her family over the Atlantic.
Yetta is a Russian Jewish immigrant, angered by the horrible working conditions in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, trying to get the other girls to join the labor union.
Jane is the daughter of a rich American businessman, living a pointless existence of tea parties and dress fittings, wishing for a freer, more meaningful life.
Soon the three will meet. They find friendship and a cause to fight for. But as the cover hints, they'll also be caught in a deadly fire that changes the course of history, both their own and that of America.
Uprising keeps the reader in constant suspense through fire metaphors, foreshadowing, and shifting points of view. It's told from three perspectives with a slight emphasis on Bella, though I found myself liking Yetta the most. But playing favorites is a risky game when you know only one can live to become the "Mrs. Livingston" in the prologue, relating the tragic tale of her friend's deaths to another mysterious woman named Harriet. That gave me something to torture myself over.
"It has to be Yetta, she has the most reason to live with the strike and all."
"But Bella is the most sympathetic, they can't kill her off."
"I could spare Jane, nothing really happens in her life, Bella and Yetta tell most of the story. But she's the logical choice since she doesn't even work in the factory, she works with Harriet. Never mind that she's the one to talk with a Mr. Livingston when he finally decides to grace us with a cameo appearance, just enough to taunt us, and she's not in a relationship."
"But than again, neither is Yetta, not really, they could make it work. And Bella's crush isn't that serious. It's actually the strongest relationship in the book, not that there's a lot of competition, but that makes us more attached to her, so she can't die."
Or can she?
Bella...Jane...Yetta...Livingston...Harriet....Bella. Yetta. Jane. Aaaargh! I can't take it anymore! Just bring it to an end already, give me a reason the dislike whoever dies, just make it stop. Maybe I'll take a little peak at the last chapter just to see the name...crap. Mrs. Livingston again? What happens to the rest of them?
Ahem. Anyways, Uprising surges with fire, rebellion, and injustice. The injustice with the stark contrast of wealth and poverty in 1911, I mean. Not the fact that good people sometimes die, though that's in there too. Story's nicely woven with chilling foreshadowing and metaphors comparing the labor unions to tinder-wait, haven't I already mentioned this? Oh, yes, right before the prolouge. Great. Now I'm back in that mindset.
Just read the book. I know it sounds horrible, but that just means it's well written. Besides, you can't go wrong with Margaret Peterson Haddix.

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