Review: Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee

Posted May 21, 2021 by Angie in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

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Review: Luck of the Titanic by Stacey LeeLuck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on May 4, 2021
Genres: Historical, Young Adult Fiction
Format: eBook (384 pages)
Source: Library
Purchase: AmazonIndieBound
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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.

Southampton, 1912: Seventeen-year-old British-Chinese Valora Luck has quit her job and smuggled herself aboard the Titanic with two goals in mind: to reunite with her twin brother Jamie--her only family now that both their parents are dead--and to convince a part-owner of the Ringling Brothers Circus to take the twins on as acrobats. Quick-thinking Val talks her way into opulent firstclass accommodations and finds Jamie with a group of fellow Chinese laborers in third class. But in the rigidly stratified world of the luxury liner, Val's ruse can only last so long, and after two long years apart, it's unclear if Jamie even wants the life Val proposes. Then, one moonless night in the North Atlantic, the unthinkable happens--the supposedly unsinkable ship is dealt a fatal blow--and Val and her companions suddenly find themselves in a race to survive.

Stacey Lee, master of historical fiction, brings a fresh perspective to an infamous tragedy, loosely inspired by the recently uncovered account of six Titanic survivors of Chinese descent.


Proceed With Caution:

This book contains racism, death, and a mass tragedy.

The Basics:

Luck of the Titanic follows seventeen-year-old acrobat, Valora Luck,  on the maiden voyage of the Titanic. She hopes to find her brother who is working on the ship and convince him to go to New York with her to join the Ringling Bother’s Circus. As we know, this isn’t going to be an easy trip.

My Thoughts:

Luck of the Titanic started off really strong! I loved getting to know Valora! We get to see all of her talents from the get go as she has trouble boarding the ship with a valid ticket just because she’s Chinese. Well, she doesn’t let that stop her. She uses her street smarts and her acrobatic talents to make her way onto the luxury liner. From there she must pretend to be a first-class passenger (which she technically is) and a third-class boy. Fun times ahead! At least for a little while.

It was great to get the story of the Titanic from a different perspective. We’re all familiar with the tales of the first-class white passengers, but now we get to see what things may have been like for the Chinese aboard. Valora does have it easier as she gets to spend half her time tucked away in her employer’s cabin, but for her brother and the other boys, it’s a completely different world. Even trying to get onto a lifeboat after the iceberg collision took on a whole new air.

Luck of the Titanic did start to lose me about two-thirds in. Does every Titanic story need to have a main character locked away below deck just to be broken out later? Also, how many times is Valora going to give up her seat in a lifeboat?! She didn’t come across as that self-sacrificing earlier in the book. It just felt like forced added tension. However, it won me back when Valora and Jamie started using their acrobat skills to get off the ship. Nothing too flashy as to be unbelievable, but it was an interesting twist.

That ending though? What?! I can honestly say I did not see the final page of Luck of the Titanic coming. I was truly shocked and had to read it twice to make sure I was reading what was actually on the page. Whoa.

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