Alice Barrow decides to become a mill girl in Lowell to gain independence from her father and from a life on the farm. She must work her looms all day, and as many looms as possible to make a worthwhile sum. She makes friends with other girls in her boarding house and at the looms. Alice finds herself joining the voices of the mill girls that want safer working conditions after witnessing several terrible accidents. She tries to convince the owners of the mills that it is in their best interest to have safe and healthy workers.
The other main plot of this novel is the murder of one of the mill girls. Her friends are determined to find justice for her. The people in charge struggle to find the perpetrator of this crime. This plot line is based on some newspaper articles from this time period that mention a murder of a mill girl. What actually happened is unknown, but the author gives her own version here that blends well with the other plots.
I really enjoyed this novel despite the dismal topics it covered. The struggle that is portrayed is based on what real mill girls endured, and is an important part of history to remember. It is not all sad. The friendships that are made in this book are beautiful and necessary to the survival of these women.
If you are interested in the mill girls or historical fiction I recommend reading this book.