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Uprising book cover

Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix; Simon & Schuster
Books for Young Readers: New York, 2011; $11.99

Uprising. One word, but somehow this meager collection of letters presents readers with strong, vivid emotions. Some when confronted with this word would mentally tremble in fright. Some might feel a sense of rebellion brewing inside them. Others would, I dare say, laugh, regarding almost humorously the rough cards life has dealt them and their failed attempts to regain control and ultimately uprise. Such a simple word, such a simple title, such a complex concept.

In this book, Haddix creates a world so similar to our own it’s hard to believe that her story is based upon historical content dating back to over one hundred years ago. It is a world we see everyday on the news, a world of division, anger, and violence. But it is also a world of hope and love. Through brilliant storytelling, the author is able to bring readers into early twentieth-century New York at the beginning of an uprising!

As 1911 progresses, the world is faced with new ideas each day. Women’s rights are finally making their way into the United States, and many are hopeful that Britain’s movement will sweep into America as well. While many suffragists are struggling to gain support for their cause, shirtwaist workers with very little public influence are also making their way into the headlines. Workers from around the country unite to protest peacefully for better conditions in the workplace.

Towards the beginning of the novel, we are swept into the lives of three girls, each speaking in different tongues and from different countries. However, somehow each one shares something in common, a yearning for a purpose. Timid Bella has just arrived in the land of opportunity, America, only to discover that this new land is not always paved with gold. On the other hand, headstrong Yetta is determined to change the world in some form. At the same time, elegant Jane lives in luxury, but passionately seeks more than her father’s wealth can offer. As the book begins, the author focuses primarily on their separate lives, but later weaves each of these together to set a premise for a monumental conclusion.

The three girls join together about midway through the book to unite in their cause, worker’s rights. Fighting peacefully each day for better working conditions in New York’s crowded factories, the characters experience fear and pain in their quest for justice. However, a terrible tragedy holds the power to tear them apart forever.

Haddix keeps readers hanging on to each word throughout. I found that the many setbacks of the characters only added to the overall product and believe our modern world could learn a lot from the perseverance and hope conveyed in the book. The Shirtwaist Factory Strike is a main focus, but the author never strays away from human emotions and experiences despite the book’s historical background.

Readers who enjoy the Dear America series will delight in this powerful portrayal of life in the twentieth-century U.S. Although intended for a young adult audience, it is my belief that anyone searching for a good historical read, regardless of age, will thoroughly enjoy this book. However, one must consider the intended age before choosing Uprising as their latest reading endeavor.

The story offers many historically accurate details, which pairing with the plot, create a stunning presentation.Overall I found this book entrancing, and struggled to put it down each day. It is a great representation of the power of perseverance and hope.

Eliza Smith Uprising
Eliza Smith, 12
Church Hill, TN