Sunday, July 25, 2021

71. Luck of the Titanic

Luck of the Titanic. Stacey Lee. 2021. [May] 368 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: When my twin, Jamie, left, he vowed it wouldn't be forever.

Premise/plot: Valora Luck, our heroine, is looking to reunite with her brother, Jamie, and she's looking to do so aboard the ship Titanic. Jamie left home and the (acrobat) act several years before. She dreams of reuniting the act and becoming a circus performer in America. (They perform as VALOR AND  VIRTUE. 

What she doesn't quite realize--at first--is that a) America has a Chinese Exclusion Act and b) Jamie didn't love, love, love performing as much as she did and his dreams do not include show business. Being denied entry onto the Titanic (though she has tickets--one for herself and one for her employer, Mrs. Sloane), she decides her only chance of finding her brother is to be a stowaway. She makes it on board okay--though a few "catch" her soon after and suspect she may be a stowaway. But will she make it to America?

Life on board is full of thrills and dangers--and that's before the ship hits an iceberg.

My thoughts: What you see is what you get. The Luck of the Titanic is a young adult historical novel. (It is not a romance.) The perspective is unique. Valora is biracial. Her father was Chinese; her mother was English. She splits her time masquerading as her employer, Mrs. Sloane, and mingling with the upper classes. And the rest of her time is spent below decks with the third class passengers--her brother and his friends (all Chinese). She sees how both sides live on board. Much of her time is spent trying to convince her brother to give up his dreams to share her own.

The setting is the Titanic. EXPECT A VERY DRAMATIC ENDING. 

The characterization is great. We get to know so many--ten? twelve?--characters. I really felt caught up in this world, this setting. I was very invested in their lives and stories. The closer we got to the ice berg, the more nervous I became (with VERY GOOD REASON TO BE NERVOUS.)

Those who are HAUNTED by the movie (1997) and vowed to never, ever, ever watch it again may want to skip this one. Not because the book is derivative of the movie. The story is unique. This isn't a cheesy romance out to manipulate you to shedding three months worth of tears.

I mentioned this isn't a romance (not really). The relationships are about FAMILY and FOUND FAMILIES. The family you choose for yourself. Though not connected by blood, these ties are strong and significant.

It was a compelling read, but trust me HEARTBREAKING. 

The author note shares, "Of the seven hundred survivors of the Titanic disaster, six--of an original eight--were Chinese men, probably seamen of some sort. But little is known about them. Unlike the rest of the survivors, their stories were not reported. While every other survivor was welcomed into America and given succor, these six were shipped off within twenty-four hours of arrival. The rare mentions of the Chinese passengers vilified them as cowards who took seats from women and children or dressed as women in order to sneak aboard the lifeboats, all of which were unfounded rumors."

© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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