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Auch, Mary Jane.
New York : Holt, 2002.
ISBN 0805066861
(4 booktalks)
Booktalk #1

Margaret Rose and her family are on a great adventure.  They have packed up all their belongings and are now on their way to America.  After the Irish famine, many have taken the same journey.  It's gotten to be expected.  The ship is smelly and the days are long but after two weeks, they finally see their goal.  There is the Statue of Liberty.  How exciting!  Now they must go through Ellis Island and then they will be starting their new life.  They are going to stay with Uncle Patrick who has been living in New York for many years.  As the family goes through the different check points, the excitement builds.  But there is a problem.  The baby doesn't pass the health exam.  He must go back to Ireland.  Of course, he can't go alone.  After much discussion, it is decided that Da will take him back and leave him with Grandma until he can return.  It will take Da about a month to earn return passage in Ireland so Ma and the three girls will stay with Uncle Patrick for a few months.  Ma is not thrilled with this arrangement.  She didn't want to come here to begin with.  After their tearful good-byes, the women set off.  Uncle Patrick is not there to meet them so they sneak aboard a boat to the harbor.  Finally finding Uncle Patrick's apartment, they are greeted by a woman who shuts the door on their face.  They are obviously not expected -- or wanted.  Uncle Patrick intervenes and convinces his wife that Margaret and the three girls should stay with them.  It is soon apparent that they are unwanted and Ma makes the decision to go back to Ireland.  Margaret Rose is devastated.  She wants to stay.  This is her dream.  Can Margaret Rose convince her mother to let her stay?  And how can a 16-year-old get by in a strange country?  What will life be like for her?

Booktalk #2

In 1911 Sixteen year old Margaret Rose and her family left Ireland for a better life in America. Excitement was in the air as their shipped docked in New York. One more formality and they would be able to start a new life. All new immigrants must go through Ellis Island to be documented and have a medical check up. 
                    When Joseph, the youngest of the four children, failed the exam the family was in shock! Joseph would have to return to Ireland. Would they all have to return? If not, who would go with him? What would happen to the family if they were separated?
                    Find out by reading Ashes of Roses by Mary Jane Auch. (Catherine Ryan,

Booktalk #3

Rose Nolan has just arrived in America-- New York City to be precise.  She and her family have traveled a long way from  Ireland just to start again in America, and she has big dreams for her future.  As she and her family look up at the Statue of Liberty for the first time she finally sees hope in their desperate situation.  Just as things look rosy and bright, though, bad luck strikes and Rose and her younger sister are left in New York to try to make a life in America all on their own.

While staying with estranged relatives, Rose and her sister try to make a living at small jobs.  Learning to cope in a strange country with strange people has its challenges.  Rose tries to work in a sweat shop, but the owner tries to take advantage of her, and she barely escapes with her pride.  It is not until she gets a job at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory that Rose thinks things will eventually workout for her and her sister.  But working conditions are not good for women and children there.  Too many people work on each floor and the management is not concerned for their safety. They work long hours with little pay. When disaster strikes, Rose learns a great deal about the importance of family, friends, and the way people should treat one another.

This historical fiction takes us back to the horrid working conditions before labor laws were enforced.  The connection to and retelling of the terrible fire that consumed the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York in 1911, compels readers to remember squalid working conditions of the past, and to be grateful for the women of those times who made things better for the rest of us.  You go girls!!!!!

Prepared by Donna E. Moyer for South Carolina Young Adult Book Award Nominees 2005

Booktalk #4

                    What if you were a new immigrant to New York in 1911; say you were, oh, 16 and you were Irish and you were immigrating with your family: your mother and father, two sisters and a brother.  Your name is Margaret Rose Nolan, but you just want to be called Rose.
                    And guess what -- things are not going well.  Your little brother is turned back at Ellis Island because of an eye infection, and your father has to return to Ireland with him.  Youíre left with your mother and two sisters, and you have to stay with some relatives who really arenít that crazy about having you there.
                    This book, Ashes of Roses, is the story of Rose and how she makes a new life for herself in New York. She finds a job at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, sewing shirtwaists, or womenís blouses.  Working conditions arenít that great, but hey, itís a job, and Rose is doing OK­ until the day the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory catches fire. 146 employees die and things are never the same in the garment industry in New York.
                    Will Rose survive?  Will she escape the factoryís flames?  What about her younger sister, and the friends sheís made there?  Read Ashes of Roses to find out what happens.  (Marcia S. Kalayjian,, Graduate student at University of South Carolina School of Library and Information Science)

SUBJECTS:     Triangle Shirtwaist Company Fire, 1911 -- Fiction.
                        Immigrants -- New York (N.Y.) -- Fiction.
                        Irish Americans -- Fiction.
                        Emigration and immigration -- Fiction.
                        New York (N.Y.) -- History -- 1898-1951 -- Fiction.
                        Historical fiction.


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