Ashes of Roses

October 15, 2012

Historical Fiction
By: Mary Jane Auch
Reviewed by: Kaya Luciani
5 out of 5 stars

It’s the early 1900s. Sixteen-year-old Rose Nolan, her three siblings, and her parents are just like any other family of immigrants at the time. They left their quaint lives in Limerick, Ireland on a ship bound for the land of opportunities. They realize quickly that it’s not as easy as it may have sounded. They are over flooded with complications the minute they set sail, and it doesn’t stop when they arrive at Ellis Island. Rose soon finds herself needing to take over the role of mother to her young sister, Maureen. While neither one of them haven’t had much experience in anything but seam stressing, they are left in New York City at the home of their mother’s brother and his family. With little help from their uncle, aunt, and cousins, the two of them immediately see that it’s extremely hard to settle down in a huge, unfamiliar city by themselves. Rose struggles at finding work to support her and Maureen. After one failed attempt at a job making faux flower bouquets that ends because of a scandalous shop owners dirty mind, she is finally pointed towards the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Things start looking up for the Nolan sisters. Rose has a good job and quickly makes friends while Maureen is starting school. Both feel as if this disaster they moved into could actually be called home. Then, one event changes everything. In 1911 on what seems to be an all but exciting day, the place where Rose found hope and happiness catches on fire. Over 140 employees die when the sweatshop burned down, changing the lives of all who survived…

This book is a compelling and honest story about a girl who is faced with an extremely difficult struggle at a very young age. But throughout this challenge, that young girl finds herself and eventually grows into a sophisticated woman, only to be crushed by one of the most tragic events in American history. Even though this book is historical fiction, it was easy to relate to the characters because of their age. I liked it a lot because of this and also because of the way it was written. The author wrote it so after each chapter it leaves you wanting more. I recommend this book to people who are a fan of strong female protagonists. You don’t have to be a history buff to love this book because it gives you so much more! It leads you through the negatives and positives of one of the most important time periods of this girl’s life, like how even though her new life in the big city may seem like a miserable one, she somehow becomes closer to her family and finds friends and relationships that could have lasted forever. It’s one of my favorite books; I’ve read it three times! Maybe you’ll feel the same way after you read Ashes of Roses.

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