44 Hours or Strike

Anne Dublin
  • Review
By – June 20, 2016

Sophie and Rose’s par­ents moved them from Rus­sia to Toron­to in the 1920s to make a bet­ter life for their fam­i­ly and avoid the ter­ri­ble anti-Semi­tism of the time. In 1931, when Sophie is 14 and Rose is 16, their father has died, their moth­er is sick and home­bound and they are both work­ing in a sweat­shop. The girls join the new­ly spread­ing Inter­na­tion­al Ladies’ Gar­ment Work­ers Union in Toron­to along with the oth­er work­ers in their fac­to­ry, and go on strike. Dublin tells of the awful work­ing con­di­tions and ter­ri­ble pover­ty, includ­ing lack of med­ical care and prop­er cloth­ing that this fam­i­ly and oth­ers encounter dur­ing this time. To make mat­ters worse, Rose is impris­oned and used as an exam­ple to the oth­er work­ers by being placed in a high secu­ri­ty prison.

While all this is unfold­ing, Sophie makes a friend. He is enam­ored of her, and she finds him quite intrigu­ing how­ev­er he is not Jew­ish. They keep their bud­ding romance a secret as long as they can – until Rose dis­cov­ers it after her release from prison. His­tor­i­cal events and char­ac­ters are woven in among the fic­tion­al char­ac­ters pro­vid­ing a con­text for the events that unfold. The sto­ry is fraught with dif­fi­cult deci­sions that no young per­son should have to make, but it pro­vides inter­est­ing his­tor­i­cal insights for the youth of today.

Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 11 – 15.

Dro­ra Arussy, Ed.D., is an edu­ca­tion­al con­sul­tant who spe­cial­izes in inte­grat­ing Jew­ish and sec­u­lar stud­ies, the arts into edu­ca­tion, and cre­ative teach­ing for excel­lence in Jew­ish edu­ca­tion. She is the moth­er to four school-age chil­dren and has taught from pre-school through adult. Dro­ra is an adjunct pro­fes­sor of Hebrew lan­guage at Drew University.

Discussion Questions