Essie can tell from the moment she lays eyes on Harriet Abbott: this is a woman who has taken a wrong turn in life.


Age Range: 12 - 17 years
Grade Level: 6 - 12
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Skyscape; 1st edition (April 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0761455353
ISBN-13: 978-0761455356

Why else would an educated, well-dressed, clearly upper-crust girl end up in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory setting sleeves for six dollars a week? But Harriet isn’t the only one who is lost. Essie wanders between the opposing emotions of her love for the young would-be lawyer who lives next door and her hatred for her mother who seems determined to take away every bit of happiness that Essie hopes to find. As the unlikely friendship between Essie and Harriet grows, so does the weight of the questions hanging between them: Who is lost? And who will be found?

This is a powerful novel about friendship, loss, and the resiliency of the human spirit, set against the backdrop of the teeming crowds and scrappy landscape of the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the early 1900s.


"Davies weaves two historic events—the disappearance of a wealthy heiress escaping family scandal and the catastrophic Triangle Shirtwaist fire of 1911, graphically depicted—into a lively tale of striving, unspeakable loss, and an eventual life-affirming resolution."—Booklist

"The characters are well-developed, and the mysteries surrounding Harriet and Essie propel the story forward."—VOYA

"The chapters flip from Essie's past recollections with her sister to her present friendship with Harriet. Once the rhythm is understood, this unusual pacing adds depth and intrigue as the plot unfolds. There are many layers to this story, which will appeal to a variety of interests and age levels."—School Library Journal

"There have been several fictional accounts of this tragic fire; this one is distinguished by believable parallel stories and Davies's effective portrayal of the hardships of early 20th-century life in New York City."—Kirkus

Awards and Lists

  • A Junior Library Guild Selection
  • Best Books for Young Adults (ALA)
  • Sydney Taylor Honor Award
  • Jewish National Book Award, Finalist
  • Westchester Fiction Award
  • Julia Ward Howe Award for Young Readers