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Threads and Flames

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  588 ratings  ·  111 reviews
It's 1910, and thirteen-year-old Raisa has just traveled alone from a small Polish shtetl all the way to New York City. It's overwhelming, awe-inspiring, and even dangerous, especially when she discovers that her sister has disappeared and she must now fend for herself. She finds work in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory sewing bodices on the popular shirtwaists. Raisa makes ...more
Hardcover, 390 pages
Published November 24th 2010 by Viking Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  588 ratings  ·  111 reviews

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Rachel Aranda
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This historical fiction brought the traffic Triangle Waist Company's Fire of 1911 to life for me. In truth, I hadn't heard about the fire until I read the cover and inner sleeve of the book. Once I found out this book was based off a real event I knew I had to read it.

When a person reads "A total of 146 workers died during the fire." it can very much read off as a fact. It is a fact but it is so much more than that. This novel serves as a reminder that all numbers we read about during a tragedy
Jul 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Threads and Flames should have been terrible. I mean, an immigrant who sews? A factory that catches fire? Not my type of book at all.

To my complete surprise, I was sucked in almost immediately. Raisa is a strong character that you want to root for. Her struggle in coming to America, and trying to make a life for herself while also searching for her sister was just totally enthralling. The story is written in a way that you feel as though you are seeing this new, strange world with Raisa for the
Aug 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
I loved the fact that this novel delved so much into the immigrants' lives not just in terms of the infamous Triangle fire but also with regard to their day-to-day lives both before and after the fire. I could have done with a little less of putting characters' thoughts in italics and a little more show-don't-tell, but other than that, very well written & interesting. I really cared about the characters.
Dec 19, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, 2010, historical
All her life Raisa has dreamed of leaving her small Polish shetl and following her older sister to that golden land, America. At only thirteen years old however in 1910, she isn't the best equipped for traveling half-way across the world, alone, to a country she's never stepped foot in before. But Raisa is determined to reunite with her sister and begins her perilous journey across Europe, the ocean, before finally landing in Ellis Island, New York. Everything is new and confusing to young Raisa ...more
Oct 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
Focusing around the tragic Triangle Waist Shirtwaist Factory fire, 'Threads and Flames' starts off with a strong premise, backed with the historically and culturally-heavy times of the early 1900s. It stays true to the time period in which it takes place--racism, sexism, and all--and is not afraid to delve into those areas.

However, the slightly lackluster characters and spotty pacing make it more of a chore than a simple leisure read. It is difficult to stay involved in at first, having an
May 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Why I read this: I was sent this for review and noticed it was historical fiction and by Esther Friesner, who is awesome and I couldn't not read it. :)

Plot: Set during the early 1900s in America, the book follows an immigrant character looking for her older sister who came over a few years earlier. Raisa has come over with her little sister Brina and must find work while she continues to look for her older sister. Ending up with work in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, she witnesses the tragedy
Mar 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
About the Triangle Waist Factory Fire, this one one of the the only books that has actually made me cry (view spoiler). It was stunningly well written, and told a great story. This book actually inspired me to learn more about the Triangle Factory Fire, and eventually write a report on it.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. All the characters were well developed, and the connections between the characters were very well developed. The story flowed along
Apr 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is one of my favorite book's.
It show's the hardships of living in the early 1900's.
Rosa, (the main character) goes to NY and starts work (with the help of friends and kind neighbors)
in a shirtwaist factory.
Rosa's spirit and kindness helps her along her journey and search for her long lost sister.
Jun 28, 2011 marked it as read-but-unowned
Shelves: ya, 2011
I think the best thing about Threads and Flames is that Friesner provides oodles of information and context without ever making me feel that I'm reading a book about the plight of immigrants or factory girls and how the injustices they faced lead to the tragedy of the Triangle fire. I was simply reading an engaging story about Raisa's new life in America, complete with a little bit of mystery, a little bit of (the cutest without being the least bit saccharine) romance, and a whole lot of ...more
Threads and Flames by Esther Friesner
Viking, 2010
386 pages
YA; Historical
4/5 stars

Source: Library

Read for YA Overlooked Book Battle.

This book was a great historical fiction novel with its main conflict coming from the famous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire on March 25, 1911 where the main character Raisa and most of her friends work. But that doesn't occur until near the end of the book.

Raisa just managed to survive typhus in her Polish shtetl before she embarks on a journey to America to meet
Margo Tanenbaum
Dec 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
2011 marks the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire, one of the most important events in American labor history. This anniversary makes the release of Threads and Flames by Esther Friesner particularly timely.

Friesner's novel opens in 1910, with thirteen-year old Raisa, recently recuperated from typhus, leaving her Polish shtetl to meet up with her sister Henda in America. After a long and difficult journey by cart, train, and ship, Raisa finally arrives in New York, only
May 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs
Threads and Flames was a well written and intriguing novel by seasoned YA author Esther Friesner. This was my first book by Esther, but it definitely won't be my last. She created a fantastic and inspiring main character and the historical details were flawless. I love historical fiction and Threads and Flames was no exception. Raisa was a determined and likable main character and my heart went out to her when things became dangerous or difficult. I haven't read too many books about teenage ...more
After just barely surviving a deathly illness in her small Polish shtetl, thirteen year-old Raisa travels alone to America to find her older sister in 1910 New York City. When she arrives and can find no trace of her sister, Raisa finds a job to pay rent for herself and the young orphan, Brina, she took in during the voyage to the States. Despite the daily mind numbing work and despair over her lost sister, she begins to make a new life in her new home with friends and even love. But when a
Jan 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
If I'd put it together earlier that Friesner also wrote Sphinx's Queen, I think I would have ended up skipping this entirely. This was a bit of a chore for me to work through, and has a lot of the same problems I saw in Sphinx's Queen. I need to pay better attention to who I'm reading...

We're less than two weeks away from the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. It's been nine years since I read my first book on the tragedy, Ashes of Roses. It's still a terrible tragedy to read
Nov 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was an almost completely different take on the Shirtwaist Factory fire compared to "Ashes of Roses." It was better in every respect. Where Rose was incapable of standing up for herself and only saw how coming to America had cut her family in half, Raisa is not at all afraid to look after herself, she's strong, and she does not at all have a victim attitude. She sees America as a place of opportunity, not a land of false promises, and she works hard to earn money and learn English and make a ...more
Mar 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
There is always something magical, for me, about reading a historical book. If done correctly, I am immediately transported into a different era, and feel the story within my bones. "Threads and Flames" was so captivating that I could hardly stop thinking about what I had read - long after the pages of the book were closed.

The book tells the fictionalized account of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire - an unfortunate event in which 146 young workers lost their lives. The story begins with
Oct 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
2.75. Not quite a 3, but more than a 2.5.

This one started really slow. For about 100 pages, we're in Poland and we meet about 100 characters who don't matter much at all to the plot. It's jarring and difficult to care about the main character, Raisa, because she's immediately given a false name but then allowed to keep her real name. That didn't clarify a whole lot.

But when I hit page 100 or so, and Raisa was on the boat to America, things really picked up. Suddenly she became a more
Aug 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
I read "Threads and Flames" by Esther Friesner. "Threads and Flames" is about a girl name Raisa who leaves her small village and immigrates to New York City to find her sister Henda. On the boat to America Raisa meets a girl name Zusa and over the course of the trip they become close friends. They also meet a little girl named Brina who's mother dies on the trip and Raisa decides to take her in. When she arrives at her sister said to be address Henda is nowhere to be found. She searches for a ...more
Threads and Flames tells the story of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, the deadliest industrial disaster in New York City history. I was given the impression that a lot of the book would focus on the fire, but the book focuses much more on Raisa’s life and what leads her to work at the factory. The fire is not until the last third of the novel, which surprised me, though I can’t say why. I supposed I was just expecting the fire to be a little bit more central to the novel.

The novel is much
Aug 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book was a surprise for me. I didn't expect myself to like Raisa so much. She also surprised me - she stood up for herself, and for the first time in a long time I found myself wanting to be like a character in a book. You know the type - strong, the type who says what she's thinking. I always want to be like that but I don't like confrontations (though friends and all think differently). But i'm not here to talk about me, i'm talking about raisa!
and gavrel! ahh! ahh!
Here's a girl who can
Aug 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
I wish this wasn't marked as "about" the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, because while that's included in this, this is way more character-driven than it is centered around the drama concerning the infamous fire of 1911.

As someone who love historical fiction that centers around a cast of characters and reading about how the events of history mold and shape their lives, I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected I would, even the "slow" parts of the beginning, while Raisa is adjusting to
Int'l librarian
Lots of very interesting history here, and Friesner does all she can to alert readers to her various messages. I know a lot more now about Jewish society in New York City, and the garment industry, and most specifically the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911.

I like Raisa, the main character. She’s a very mature 14-year-old, having traveled on her own from Poland to the US. There are several very well-written scenes, but the fire itself is the horrific centerpiece. It’s hard to get a sense
Ashley - Book Labyrinth
Jun 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
The beginning of this novel has a bit of a slower pace, but very quickly I became wrapped up in Raisa’s story, caring about her and wanting her to succeed. ‘Threads and Flames’ presents such an interesting account of what it must have been like as an immigrant coming to America and living in poverty. This is a story that involves religious persecution, the reality of social classes, and working conditions for the poor.

Even though the whole book was mesmerizing, the events described within the
Lyssa Sue Shaffer
Dec 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
An amazing look to the past. This book is so profoundly moving, I cried as I read it, then I laughed of course. This is a novelization of the events leading up to & after the Triangle Shirt Factory Fire in New York City.

It follows the life of a young Jewish woman from Poland, her life there & her passage to America. Her search for family & work lead her to sewing for the owner of the Triangle Factory. The fire & its aftermath changed labor relations law as well as health &
Wow, I am glad it all came together in the end. I don't mind some tragedy, and considering this fictional story has true historical events involved that were truly catastrophic, I appreciate that she found a way to close it in a satisfying manner.
I hate spoilers so I won't go into detail. If you've read the cover you know that is based around the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire. That really happened. I love historical fiction just for the history lesson I get. It always sparks my interest in
Nov 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
"Threads and Flames" is historical fiction at its best! It features Raisa, a spunky Jewish girl at the turn of the 20th century who has emigrated to America from a tiny Polish town. She is on her own from the start (although she makes some great friends and gains a "cousin" on the ship over) and is dismayed when she gets to America and can't find her older sister who sent for her. She manages to find boarding, and a job, even a beau! Unfortunately the job she finds is at the Triangle Shirtwaist ...more
Jo Oehrlein
May 17, 2012 rated it liked it
The main characters are teenagers, but it seems more like a book for older children than teens, although the material is very hard.

You're about 3/4 of the way through before you get to the fire, though. The desperation in the factory is bad, but there are pretty vivid descriptions of people falling and jumping, viewing at the temporary morgue, the coffin for unidentified "pieces", etc.

The book is more a story about a Jewish immigrant to NYC at that time, how weird it was to travel, the bad
Mrs. Nelson's
May 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
"Threads and Flames" is historical fiction at its best! It features Raisa, a spunky Jewish girl at the turn of the 20th century who has emigrated to America from a tiny Polish town. She is on her own from the start (although she makes some great friends and gains a "cousin" on the ship over) and is dismayed when she gets to America and can't find her older sister who sent for her. She manages to find boarding, and a job, even a beau! Unfortunately the job she finds is at the Triangle Shirtwaist ...more
Oct 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
While not quite as emotionally powerful as Haddix's Uprising, Friesner still creates characters and setting that are believable. I became quite attached to Raisa, Brina, Gavrel, and the rest. Raise comes to America to escape her Jewish Shtetl. She plans to meet up with her sister, Henda, in New York. But when she gets there with a young girl she has taken under her wing, she finds her sister missing. Frantically, Raisa looks for her sister, but first she must find a place to live and a job to ...more
Kris Irvin
May 29, 2011 rated it liked it
I give this one 2.5 stars. It is not NEARLY as good as "Uprising" by Margaret Peterson Haddix.

The beginning was rushed and a little confusing. I actually had no idea Raisa was supposed to be 13 - I figured at least 16. I found all the characters a little flat and the ending to be much too convenient, neat and a little cliche. Most of the book is devoted to finding Raisa's sister and so it kind of feels like everything else is an afterthought.

I will say, I did not get as emotionally attached to
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Esther M. Friesner was educated at Vassar College, where she completed B.A's in both Spanish and Drama. She went to on to Yale University; within five years she was awarded an M.A. and Ph.D. in Spanish. She taught Spanish at Yale for a number of years before going on to become a full-time author of fantasy and science fiction. She has published twenty-seven novels so far; her most recent titles ...more
“If we don't see to it that our children turn out better than we did, what will become of the world?” 4 likes
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