I have been a fan of Margaret Peterson Haddix’s books ever since I read The Shadow Children series last year. This was quickly followed by reading everything she had ever written! Her books are always very popular in my room and The Shadow Children have convinced many a reluctant reader that books can be fun. When I saw that she had a new historical fiction novel coming out, I added to a quick order I was making. I picked it up this week, while my class is working on their historical fiction literature circles, and I am so glad I did!
Uprising is the story of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911. Bookended by chapters that focus on a survivor telling her story, the novel alternates between 3 viewpoints- Bella, an Italian immigrant, Yetta, a Russian Jewish immigrant,and Jane, a society girl yearning to free herself from the chains of her life. All three girls have jobs at or connected to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory and are brought together by various circumstances. As you read, you do not know how the survivor is, and I was turning the pages hoping to discover which girl survived while also hoping I was wrong- maybe they all survived.
Uprising is not the science-fiction type novel I expect from Haddix. However, it is a wonderful novel. It should be required reading for all girls who have forgotten how far women have come in the struggle for equality. It should be required reading for any one in a union, to remind them how much unions mean to this country. It should be required reading for anyone whose family immigrated to this country and fought years of oppression just because they were Jewish, or Irish, or Italian. I can’t wait to pass this on to some of the girls in my room.
As a warning, Uprising does not have a happy ending. Haddix lets you know in the beginning that a lone survivor is being interviewed. However, the fact that the reader doesn’t know which girl survives will keep them turning the page. The author’s note at the end does a wonderful job of giving additional information while not spoonfeeding the reader, either. Haddix provides websites and books that she used in her research for the book and invites the reader to check them out. She also gives a brief history of the factory and its more famous employers and employees.
*One of my favorite books is Katherine Paterson’s Lyddie. For those who enjoy Lyddie, I would highly recommend Uprising!