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Reviews of Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee

Luck of the Titanic

by Stacey Lee

Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee X
Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 2021, 384 pages

    Paperback:
    Sep 2022, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Althea Draper
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About this Book

Book Summary

From the critically-acclaimed author of The Downstairs Girl comes the richly imagined story of Valora and Jamie Luck, twin British Chinese acrobats traveling aboard the Titanic on its ill-fated maiden voyage.

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.

1

April 10, 1912

When my twin, Jamie, left, he vowed it wouldn't be forever. Only a week before Halley's Comet brushed the London skies, he kissed my cheek and set off. One comet in, one comet out. But two years away is more than enough time to clear his head, even in the coal-­thickened air at the bottom of a steamship. Since he hasn't come home, it is time to chase down the comet's tail.

I try not to fidget while I wait my turn on the first-­class gangway of White Star Line's newest ocean liner. A roofed corridor—­to spare the nobs the inconvenience of sunshine—­leads directly from the "boat train" depot to this highest crossing. At least we are far from the rats on Southampton dock below, which is crawling with them.

Of course, some up here might consider me a rat.

The couple ahead of me eyes me warily, even though I am dressed in one of Mrs. Sloane's smartest traveling suits—­shark grey to match her usual temper, with a swath of black bee-&#...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Upon turning the first page of this rich historical novel, I was at once immersed in Lee's lush prose. The author's descriptions are vibrant: The lavishness of the first-class cabins and smoking rooms versus the cramped and dingy third-class cabins that Valora's brother and his friends are relegated to shows the stark monetary divide upon the ship, which is reflected in wider society at the time. But, of course, this divide does not exist in a vacuum, and the racism faced by the Chinese population of both the United Kingdom and the United States in the early 1900s is clearly linked to it. However, it is not all doom-and-gloom aboard Lee's version of the Titanic, and her characters make the story a joy to read...continued

Full Review (642 words).

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(Reviewed by Althea Draper).

Media Reviews

Shelf Awareness
Thrilling...Lee seamlessly weaves fact and fiction in Luck of the Titanic, inventing a story that gorgeously captures an era and a tragedy.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Gives readers a picture of the vast differences in the experiences of the classes aboard the ship...Run-ins with various historical figures will receive appreciative nods from kids in the know...Devastating.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Issues of racial and class discrimination are seamlessly woven into the story as Val's adventure takes her through the Titanic's various decks, from a first-class suite to the boiler rooms. Her wit and pluck give the story such buoyancy that when tragedy strikes, it almost comes as a surprise...A gem from start to bittersweet finish.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Lee deftly sketches a compassionate cast and immerses readers in the ship's architecture and socially stratified atmosphere, sustaining suspense throughout by foreshadowing the disaster to come. A finely crafted historical exploration of identity, class, and family that resonates through the present.

School Library Connection
[Lee's] writing draws the reader into this 'night to remember'...Devastating."

School Library Journal (starred review)
Through Jamie's Chinese crew, Lee depicts a nuanced spectrum of bilingualism and cultural hybridity. With a compassionate, strong heroine and a diverse cast, this is an exciting, important retelling of the Titanic tragedy.

Author Blurb Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
This is the kind of book I absolutely love. Heroism and heartbreaking tragedy, seen through the eyes of those who have been left off the pages of our history books.

Author Blurb Melissa de la Cruz, New York Times bestselling author of Alex & Eliza
A thrilling historical page-turner. A must-read!

Reader Reviews

Sakshi Singh

Fun, real, heartwarming, thought provoking, witty, and charming.
Luck of the Titanic is the Titanic story I wish we all knew. Move over Rose and Jack, make way for Val and Jamie. Never once did I ever imagine to be able to see someone who looked like me in a historical fiction about the Titanic. I didn’t even ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Chinese Passengers Aboard the Titanic

The Titanic departing Southampton on April 10, 1912 In Luck of the Titanic, we get a glimpse into the lives of Chinese passengers and workers aboard the famous "unsinkable" ship, including the xenophobia, racism and classism they face. At the beginning of the novel, author Stacey Lee explains that there were eight real-life Chinese passengers on the Titanic, of whom six survived. While their experience was different from that of the British Chinese characters Lee invented, they served as inspiration for her book. However, relatively little is known about them, as their stories have to an extent been filtered out of history.

We do know that they were all male sailors who, prior to their 1912 voyage on the ship, had been out of work due to the coal strikes occurring in Britain at the ...

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