REVIEW: Awe Inspiring tear jerker. I am at a loss for words to tell you how much I loved “Ashes” by Sharon Gloger Friedman. I’m not sure the English language has the words that I am lacking. I was stunned into silence when I closed this book. I knew that life was not easy for immigrants coming into the United States years ago. I’m not sure I knew how bad some of them had it before they even got on the ship that brought them here and how horrible those conditions were for many of them on the ship. I’m pretty sure these people had more will power and stamina than I ever had.
I was in awe of what they had to do to survive in this country. The hours they worked and the harsh conditions in which they worked and lived. The women in this book withstood sexual harassment and bosses that treated them without concern as if they were not human beings.
It brings tears to my eyes to think of the unsafe conditions they put up with. Doors locked, fire escapes blocked and many safety violations that today would not happen. Labor unions were just beginning and needed to protect the workers rights and safety. Back then there was not social security, unemployment or disability insurance.
The characters wormed their way into my heart and were people I would have been proud to call my ancestors. They were so fully developed, I felt like I had a past with them. I learn a bit about the Jewish faith and the discrimination they lived with.
The research was phenomenal. Sharon Gloger Friedman knows her stuff. If you like historical fiction, you will love this book. It is one I won’t forget and will carry in my heart until my end. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this book. You’ll be glad you did.
I received a copy of this book from the author for a fair and honest review.
SYNOPSIS: A Jewish Family’s Epic of Hope, Tragedy, and Survival
Easter Sunday, 1903 ushered in three days of government-sanctioned brutality on the Jews of Kishinev, Russia. In the aftermath of slaughter, rape, and destruction, Meyer and Sadie Raisky escape to New York City with their thirteen-year-old daughter, Miriam. Their home and business gone, reeling from devastating personal tragedy, the Raiskys cling to the promise of a better life in America. But upon arriving in New York City, Miriam and her parents quickly learn that promises are easily broken in the tenements of the Lower East Side. When circumstances force Miriam to abandon the schooling she loves to help support her family, she goes to work at the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, joining other immigrant girls who work long hours for low wages in shocking conditions. Against the backdrop of emerging workers’ rights and women’s rights, Miriam’s social conscience and young womanhood both blossom when she falls in love with a union organizer. Meticulously researched and rich with beautifully drawn characters that bring 20th-century New York City to life, Ashes is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, and a haunting elegy to the young women whose suffering inspired changes to the working conditions in the garment industry.