City of Slaughter

Written by Cynthia Drew
Review by Laura Staley

Carsie Akselrod and her sister Lilia escape from the Pale of Settlement after the murder of their parents by Cossacks. They find their way to New York City in 1900, only to experience poverty, sexism, assault, and the horrors of the sweatshop labor system. The barriers to survival were high for poor Jewish immigrants at the turn of the 20th century, and Carsie, Lilia, and their relatives struggle to endure. Carsie, determined, progressive, talented and attractive, works to succeed as a milliner, while Lilia balances marriage and classes at New York University with her job in the Triangle Waist factory. The author has obviously done her research; readers of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle will recognize this world. Some things surprised this reviewer however: a subplot that has Carsie engaged to marry her uncle is one, and a consequence-free killing is another. Overall, though, this is an interesting read. The strong theme of self-actualization will appeal to many female readers.