Monday, September 10, 2012

Band of Sisters

I haven't read a historical fiction book in a while that left a good impression, but Cathy Gohlke's, Band of Sisters, really struck a chord with me ( It really makes you think and begs you to get involved with a problem that is unfortunately still present today.

This heartfelt and wrenching novel follows young Maureen and her thirteen year old sister, Katie Rose, as they flee from Dublin and try to make a new start in New York City. Maureen is trying to escape from a shameful past in Ireland and their only hope is that their deceased father's old military friend will honor a letter he wrote to him nearly twenty years prior ensuring him and his family a home and job in the city. After barely making it past the Ellis Island check points, Maureen is further discouraged when she discovers that Colonel Wakefield is deceased and the family wants nothing to do with her (or so she thinks). Thanks to the aid of young Jamie Flynn (an unworthy chap who loans Maureen money), Joshua Keeton (a young Irish chap who came over with them and is besotten with Maureeen but she unfortunately doesn't want anything to do with him because he knows of her past), and Mrs. Melkford (an elderly missionary lady who looks after the girls and vouches for them at Ellis Island) the two sisters are able to survive, but just barely.

Things start to get gritty really fast when Maureen discovers the "escort service" going on upstairs at her new job in a department store. Soon girls start to go missing, and asking questions becomes dangerous. Maureen fears for her and her sister's life thinking that they might be sold into white slavery. Thankfully, Olivia Wakefield's beau, Curtis, is on the trail to hunt down the men involved with the disappearences and he enlists Maureen and Joshua to help him. Maureen starts to wonder if she might love Joshua as he loves her, but Katie Rose tries to ruin things by bringing up Maureen's shameful past in Ireland which drives a wedge between the sisters. Will Curtis and his helpers get to the bottom of the missing girls, will Katie Rose ever forgive Maureen (and vice-versa), will the Colonel's family ever honor their father's wishes and help out the two Irish sisters? For goodness gracious read to find out. You won't be disappointed.

Overall, this book paints an intricate historical portrait of the dangers young immigrants faced in New York City. It was gripping and inspiring and totally impossible to put down. Being sold into the sex trade and horrible working conditions (for all you history buffs, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire is referenced) were just a few of the horrors that these young immigrants had to face.  Even though these problem aren't running rampant in America, they are still present here and is a huge problem across the globe. This book is a chilling reminder of how we need to unite to combat these social problems for the good of all.

After reading this book you might be compelled to ask what you can do to help stop human trafficking. The following website,, provides valuable resources about human trafficking by country, and what you can do to raise awareness and stop this horrible trend.

I received this book for free from Tyndale Publishing in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Erin, for this wonderful review of "Band of Sisters," and for sharing information with your readers about what they can do to help in the fight against human trafficking.

    God bless you!