Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Jacqueline Davies
Historical Fiction
For ages 12 and up
Marshall Cavendish, 2009   ISBN: 978-0761455356

The moment Essie sees Harriet Abbott at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory she knows that the girl is different. Harriet’s hands are soft and clearly have not been used for hard work, her gloves are expensive looking, and she is not like the other girls who live in the tenements. Even though Essie does not like helping the new girls, she ends up showing Harriet how to use the machines, and in spite of herself, the two girls become good friends.

For Essie, her time with Harriet is a refuge from her own miserable life. Essie and her mother always clash, her brother is on his way to becoming a criminal, and the love of Essie’s life, her little sister Zelda, is causing Essie terrible emotional pain.

Bit by bit Essie begins to piece together the pieces of Harriet’s secret and mysterious past. As she does this, Essie also begins to let go of her own loss, and to find a place where she can finally let go of the ghost in her life.

In this powerful and often painful story, Jacqueline Davies beautifully weaves fact and fiction together. She tells the story of Essie, her creation, against the backdrop of two real stories that hit the headlines in New York City in 1911. These stories were the disappearance of a millionaire’s daughter, and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. The author shifts between Essie’s present and her future, giving her readers hints about what took place in Essie’s past, and preparing them for a life changing event in her future.