Welcome to book spotlight where instead of giving you another book review, I’m just going to talk about books I’ve read recently that I enjoyed. Prepare yourself for the fangirl gushing.
Stacey Lee continues to blow me away with her historical fiction. I love that she sheds light on the Chinese experience during significant eras of history. I’ve learned so much about history and Chinese culture by reading her books.
Luck of the Titanic continues this theme by focusing on a half-Chinese girl during the doomed Titanic voyage. I had no idea before reading this book that there were eight Chinese passengers on the Titanic. I had no idea that six of the eight survived. I appreciate that authors like Stacey Lee have taken the time to write fictional, yet historically accurate, novels about the lives and people groups lost to or most likely buried by history.
Luck of the Titanic swept me away with its glamour and fun. I would have given this book 5-stars, no questions, except for that ending. That ending broke me and I’m not sure I can 100% forgive Stacey Lee for it. Going into a book about the Titanic, I expected tragedy, I expected horrors from that fateful night, but I did not expect the book to go in that direction, so I am heartbroken.
But I also appreciate Stacey Lee for going in that direction because that ending is real. It’s raw. It’s believable and emotional. It works, even if I’m angry about it.
Everything up to that ending is fantastic, though. The historical details, the character banter, the plot. This book has lovable characters and high stakes tension even before the Titanic begins to sink. The glamour of the Titanic paired with the harsh life of the third class passengers paints a stark contrast that really gets to the heart of the racism and sexism of the time period.
I love books that feature sibling relationships, and Valora and Jamie’s sibling relationship was so well written, so well done. I like the banter and fun between them. I like that they were trained as acrobats and how much that plays a part in their stories. I like how everything plays out for them.
I also love the hint of romance in this. I’m a person who doesn’t like insta-love or fast-paced romances because it doesn’t seem realistic to me. But this made sense. It wasn’t such a big part of the story that it overwhelmed the main plot and the other relationships, but it was enough to satisfy the expectation that a YA novel will have some kind of romance in it.
And there are all the other characters. The rich and wealthy, the third class passengers, the Chinese. Stacey Lee makes even side characters memorable and important.
While this book takes place on the Titanic, the tragedy doesn’t happen until the latter fourth of the book. But I didn’t mind that. Because the story is more than just the tragedy. It’s about everything leading up to it. It’s about the life of those Chinese passengers who lived and who died. It’s about the time period and its treatment of people of color. Three-fourths of this book are an adventure. It’s only that last fourth where the heartbreak happens. But Stacey Lee balanced that well and made it work for the story she decided to tell.
“Life is a balancing act, and the better you get at juggling, the better you get at living.”