Luck of the Titanic
Series: Reads and Reviews, Reads and Reviews - September 2021
Genre: Historical Fiction - YA
ISBN: 9780349431451

(YA reading level - there is some racism and the use of racial slurs, beyond that, the book is very clean)

Valora Luck is the daughter of a white mother and a Chinese father. She and her brother have been trained as circus performers, and both parents are deceased. Luck decides to disguise herself as a well-off widow and is able to finagle her way onto the infamous Titanic shortly before it leaves that harbor. She then finds her brother aboard and is able to entangle herself in many dramatic plotlines, as she attempts to pass herself off as both a male Chinese circus performer and a widowed first-class passenger.

My main criticism of this book is that it didn't need to take place on the Titanic. Much of the plot could have taken place on any ship crossing the Atlantic during this time. I understand that Lee wanted to explore the history of the Chinese men who survived the Titanic, but a fictional female character was the main character of the story. I think the struggles Luck faced (racism, poverty, the Chinese Exclusion Act, etc) could have been better explored if the story just took place on a ship - no ice needed. I spent much of the book waiting for the ship to hit the ice, as then all of the stories that led up to the sinking wouldn't really matter. That was really my struggle with this book. I knew that all of the plots would be stressed or demolished towards the end, so I never really found myself invested in the stories of the characters. I do look forward to reading more Stacey Lee books, as I really enjoyed her writing, just not the plot structure of this particular tale.

About the Book

From the publisher, “Valora Luck has two things: a ticket for the biggest and most luxurious ocean liner in the world, and a dream of leaving England behind and making a life for herself as a circus performer in New York. Much to her surprise though, she’s turned away at the gangway; apparently, Chinese aren’t allowed into America.

But Val has to get on that ship. Her twin brother Jamie, who has spent two long years at sea, is there, as is an influential circus owner, whom Val hopes to audition for. Thankfully, there’s not much a trained acrobat like Val can’t overcome when she puts her mind to it.

As a stowaway, Val should keep her head down and stay out of sight. But the clock is ticking and she has just seven days as the ship makes its way across the Atlantic to find Jamie, perform for the circus owner, and convince him to help get them both into America.

Then one night the unthinkable happens, and suddenly Val’s dreams of a new life are crushed under the weight of the only thing that matters: survival.”

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