Interest LevelReading LevelReading A-ZATOSWord Count
Grades 4 - 8Grades 3 - 6n/a5.689272
Around her the workers were screaming out prayers and curses.... She herself was sobbing tearlessly.... Her only prayer was still, "I don't want to die."

Oh, please, God, don't let me die, she thought. I've never even had a chance to live.


Bella, newly arrived in New York from Italy, gets a job at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. There, along with hundreds of other immigrants, she works long hours at a grueling job under terrible conditions. Yetta, a coworker from Russia, has been crusading for a union, and when factory conditions worsen, she helps workers rise up in a strike. Wealthy Jane learns of the plight of the workers and becomes involved with their cause.

Bella and Yetta are at work -- and Jane is visiting the factory -- on March 25, 1911, when a spark ignites some cloth and the building is engulfed in fire, leading to one of the worst workplace disasters ever.

Margaret Peterson Haddix draws on extensive historical research to bring the tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire to tangible life through her thrilling story of Bella, Yetta, and Jane.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published on January 18, 2011 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 1416911723
ISBN-13: 9781416911722
3 Book Reviews
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  • bookstory13
    bookstory13Saturday, July 28, 2018 at 2:45 pm55 stars
    Taking place in the early 1900s, this is the tale of two immigrants and a rich girl-only one of whom survives. Bella came to America to find a job and send money to her starving family back home in Italy. Yetta arrived for the same reason, only her family is back home in Russia. Both Bella and Yetta came seeking good fortune in America, and only found poverty and poor working conditions. What about Jane? Jane is the rich girl who's father owns one of the biggest businesses that girls can work at-the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. As the story progresses, each character develops in a way only Margaret Peterson Haddix can accomplish. Bella falls in love with her cousin Pietro, the man who sponsored her coming to America. Yetta becomes a very active women's rights activist-and gets thrown in jail a couple of times for doing so. Jane realizes that money is not everything. Bella, Yetta, and Jane become friends under unlikely circumstances. But when the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory catches on fire, only one lives to tell the tale. I found this an intriguing book because it really made me think about what matters most and how much people have gone through to get where we are now. Margaret Peterson Haddix did an excellent job with the characters, I feel as if I really know them! I don't really like reading books set in a different time frame because I want to be able to connect strongly to them, in every way that I can. But this book made me forget about "connecting" and made me think about other things. If I could give this book a six out of five, I certainly would! --BKS
    • turtlenicole
      turtlenicoleFriday, May 27, 2016 at 5:00 pm55 stars
      From the eyes of three young girls in the disastrous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, two died tragically, but one survived. As Ms. Livingston told Harriet the story of long ago, the times of dreams or success, wealth, and happiness in America. Long ago, a girl named Bella had immigrated from Calia, Italy, She came with the dream of providing enough food for her family, struggling to live in the rural village back in Italy. As Bella arrives at Ellis Island in New York, the family that was supposed to care for her were sent back to Italy. Luckily, her cousin Pietro was already in America and took care of her. She immediately fell in love with him (which is quite strange because normally you wouldn't fall in love with a family member) They live in one of the tight tenement buildings in New York which are owned by the Luciano family. The Lucianos do not treat Bella and Pietro well, but Signora Luciano's son Rocco is very kind to Bella. (He falls in love with her later on). As Bella got a job at the Triangle, she met a girl named Yetta who was on strike because of unfair wages. They had made the uprising. However, Bella continued to work during the strike until she got horrible news. Her family had died in Calia from the lack of food. She felt heartbroken and so lonely because Pietro was gone, she had no family, and she recently found out that the Luciano's had been stealing her money with greed. She was so mad that she ran away and decided to live in a different tenement with Yetta and her older sister Rahel. Meanwhile, in the rich society of New York, Jane Wellington is having dreams of going to college, women's suffrage, and love from her father. Unfortunately, her father does not have the time to care for her, and her mother had died when she was born. She soon runs away with dreams to help the poor girls who work under horrible conditions and raise awareness for them. She comes to live with Yetta and Bella in the tenement, and they all worked together to survive. Later on, the three girls were at the factory, but someone had dropped a cigarette and the building soon went into flames. Bella had managed to escape safely, but Yetta had died to jump off the window, and Jane had burned herself to death in the building. All of the victims now were honored for their hard work and are forever remembered. I give this a 5 out of 5 and recommend this beautiful historical fiction based story by Haddix which truly happened at the Asch Building in New York City.
      • iconicdreams
        iconicdreamsMonday, December 17, 2012 at 12:49 pm55 stars
        this book defently shows you different view points

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