Title: Luck of the Titanic
Author: Stacey Lee
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: May 4, 2021
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 people 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 on board, as is an influential circus owner. 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, audition 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.
Valora Luck is excited to have a ticket for the Titanic, where she will surprise her twin brother who is also on board. After Valora’s employer, who was supposed to go on the trip with her, dies suddenly, Valora tries to get on the ship by herself. However, Chinese passengers aren’t allowed into America. Valora figures out a way to sneak on the ship to reunite with her brother Jamie. Her plan is for them to revive their acrobatics act to impress a circus owner. Jamie isn’t interested in doing their circus act anymore, or in staying in America with Valora. She has seven days of their journey to convince Jamie to follow their old dream, while also masquerading as a wealthy passenger.
This historical fiction was funny at times, but it also dealt with serious subjects. Valora, Jamie, and the other Chinese passengers had to face horrific racism. I was shocked when they said that she wouldn’t be allowed on the ship because she was Chinese. That was just the first in a series of racist incidents. When Valora wore a veil and dressed to impersonate her employer, she was treated completely differently, with a lot of respect. This reinforced the racism that was directed towards Valora. It’s so devastating that anti-Asian racism still happens today, though perhaps not as openly as in this book.
Since this book was set on the Titanic, I knew what would happen at the end. I kept waiting for the moment when the Titanic would hit the iceberg and sink. I was hopeful that, since this is a fictional story, something would happen and the ship would survive. I won’t give away the ending but I found it shocking and sad.
Luck of the Titanic is a heartbreaking historical young adult novel.
Thank you Penguin Teen for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee
Have you read Luck of the Titanic? What did you think of it?