Thursday, April 21, 2005

Shutting Out the Sky

Shutting Out the Sky: Life in the Tenements of New York by Deborah Hopkinson tells the reader about the life as an immigrant during the years from 1880 to 1924. She does this through the voices of five immigrants, Rose, Leonard, Maurice, Pauline, and Marcus. The reader can experience the joys and heartaches of being an immigrant and trying to fit in to the new life.These people" faced extreme poverty, prejudice, and difficult living conditions."(p. 109) Twelve-year-old Rose worked as a seamstress in a sweatshop. Pauline also was a garment worker and at the Triangle Waist Company. She later became one of the organizers of International Ladies Garment Workers Union. Even though a free public education was one of the benefits of living in America, many immigrant families could not make ends meet without having children work. Getting an education was a struggle for many immigrants. Leonard had to quit high school and later won a Pulitzer scholarship to Columbia University -- he went on to earn a doctorate in education. While this is not a novel, it has a style that gives the reader vivid images of the life of immigrants. There are many photos to give you a visual reference to the time. This book is not long, and I become so absorbed that I read it in a single sitting.

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