Seventeen-year-old Essie is a Jewish girl living in Manhattan in 1911. She is unable to take care of her six-year-old sister, Zelda, because she has a job at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. At the factory, she befriends the new girl, Harriet. She relates to her on a deeper level, because she realizes that Harriet is sad, lonely and lost. We see Essie navigate through her own loss and tragedy as the author alternates between the past and the present, weaving the story together like an intricate web.