To Twelve-year-old Emma Niemi, life may be hard, but it is basically good. She has finished sixth grade and is nearly a young lady. Her father pushes tram cars full of copper ore in a Calumet and Hecla mine and has saved almost enough money to buy land for a farm. In the summer of 1913,
Emma’s life, and the lives of everyone in the region, will be changed forever by a violent strike against the mining companies of Houghton and Keweenaw Counties of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A friend whose father is not on strike will be forbidden to talk to her. Another will die in the terrible Italian Hall Tragedy on Christmas Eve.
Only the character trait the Finnish people call “sisu” will help her and others in the region live through this terrible tragedy.