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As the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire draws closer, there have been a slew of books published, recalling the horror of that day, honoring those who risked their lives to save others and reminding our country of the need for laws to protect workers from unscrupulous, selfish bosses.  While I am no fan of unions in their current state, every time I read one of these books, I am reminded of the reason we have unions, and of the good that they have accomplished for our country.

Political messages aside, this was a good book.  It traces the journey of Raisa, a young Jewish girl, who travels from her Polish hometown by herself to New York City, in search of her sister.  When Raisa arrives in New York, her sister is nowhere to be found.  So Raisa settles in to find a job and begin hunting the city for her sister.

Some other good books about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory are Lost by Jacqueline Davies; Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix; and Ashes of Roses by Mary Jane Auch.

Lost by Jacqueline Davies

05th March 2010

I was at the library, juggling both of my kids, when I spotted this book.  Normally I don’t even bother looking for my own books when both kids are with me (most of my book browsing is done on-line these days.)  But the cover caught my eye, so I snatched it up as the 3 of us whirled by, and I’m so glad that I did.  The simple cover (hats and a scarf on a hook) and short, somewhat vague title — Lost–was the outer shell of an exciting book with a unique perspective on The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, an event about which I’ve read several books.

I’ve been trying to summarize the plot without giving anything away, and can’t.  So I’m not going to even try.  This is a fantastic book, hard to put down, and the suspense builds with each chapter.  Go read this book.

Book Overload

08th October 2009

The stack of books on my desk, waiting to be reviewed, is insurmountable.  I will never get to them all.  So for the sake of time, I need to do a combo post.  Here are the books I’ve been reading the past few weeks.  Most of them have been fantastic:

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf–Two young girls are missing in the woods.  Told through multiple perspectives, the families work to find their girls, and one of the girls, Callie, works to regain her voice.  I had a hard time putting this one down.

Day After Night by Anita Diamant–A fictional account of the October 1945 rescue of Jewish detainees from the Atlit internment camp in Israel.  A grim reminder that the plight of the Jews didn’t end with the surrender of Germany.

The Road of Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam–The autobiographical account of Somaly Mam, who was sold into prostitution in Cambodia as a young girl, was able to escape, and returned to help other girls.  An amazing and heartbreaking story that continues today.

While I’m Falling by Laura Moriarty–A college student and her mom try to figure life out.  I love the way Moriarty writes about mother-daughter relationships.

Blood on the River: James Town 1607 by Elisa Carbone–A fictional account of Samuel Collier, page to Captain John Smith and his journey to Jamestown.  I read this after having visited Jamestown Settlement.  The book brings the familiar story to life.

The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick–I can’t believe I didn’t discover this book earlier!  A love of reading and writing saves a dystopic civilization.  Great book.

Lost and Found by Andrew Clements–Twin brothers take turns going to school, and in the process, discover who they are as individuals.  Not my favorite by Clements, but well done nonetheless.

Shackleton’s Stowaway by Victoria McKernan–One of the most amazing adventure stories I’ve ever read, based on the real journey made by Ernest Shackleton and his crew as they attempted to cross the Antarctic continent in 1914.  Highly recommended.

Henry Day is stolen by some changelings when he is 6 years old.  Henry goes to live in the forest with the other changelings, and becomes “Aniday.”  Meanwhile, a changeling takes Henry’s place in life.  No one knows that the boy who was “Henry” has disppeared.  No one knows that the boy who is now Henry is really an imposter.

But a simple synopsis of this book cerainly doesn’t do it justice.   Donohue’s book is rich with detail and depth.  He explores the parent-child relationship; the power of books, reading and writing to bring meaning and understanding; the beauty of friendship; the myth of the changelings; and the freedom of forgiveness.

My favorite quote comes when a changeling observes a human boy reunite with his mother after an hour playing at the park.  The changeling observes:

A thin smile creased [the boy’s] face when she arrived, and without a word he jumped down from the swing, grabbed her hand, and off they went.  Their behavior and interaction baffled me.  Parents and children take such everyday moments for granted, as if there is an endless supply.

The changelings spend hundreds of years longing for a human family.  Too often I feel as if I spend the time I have with my children wishing it was naptime!  The reminder that the moments I have with my precious children are finite is a timely and necessary one.

The Shack by Wm. Paul Young

07th March 2009

When Mackenzie’s daughter Missy disappears on a family camping trip, Mack has some serious questions for God.  Where was God when this tragedy took place?  Why didn’t God stop it from happening?  When will Missy’s abductor be brought to justice?  How can a loving God allow these things to happen?  But Mack never expected God to actually answer his questions.  God’s answers changed Mack’s life forever.

This is a book that Christians should read together.  It would be great for small group study or a book group.  Young’s portrayal of God is thought provoking, to say the least.  He blows away all stereotypes we may hold of an old, grey-bearded “Gandalf-type” God.  I’m not sure I agree with everything that Young says about God.  Certainly, I don’t think he gives the whole picture.  What Young does do well, is illustrate in a vivid way, God’s love for each precious human that He created.

For more info and some book excerpts, visit http://www.theshackbook.com

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