Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ghosts of the Titanic by Julie Lawson



Ghosts of the Titanic
2012
168 pages

I plucked this title from the library shelves on a recent visit.  I was thinking of my students who just love anything to do with the sinking of the Titanic.  As I've written about in other posts it is always fitting to find out a book is worthy of its price tag before I buy it for the library.

I wasn't sure this one was going to be with it until I'd made it more than half way through.  I often tell my students that the best part of the book doesn't come until the middle of the book-good thing I took my own advice.  I struggled with the narration, which gave me little empathy for Kevin Messenger, the young man telling the story.  He seemed whiny and filled with negative energy and his relationship with his father is particularly difficult.  But I love stories that intertwine and this one does just that.  Mixed in with Kevin's story is Angus Seaton's tale, a 17-year-old seaman who was on the Canadian ship first on the scene to rescue Titanic survivors.  Through Angus's early actions he forever connects his life to the Messenger family.  This insider look at those days immediately following the Titanic disaster are little known treasures of information and will delight my students.  The fact that this also becomes a real ghost story for Kevin Messenger will make this tale even more thrilling!

Random quote:

Angus had lost count of the number of trips they'd made to the ship.  Ten? Twelve? Back and forth to the ship, pulling hard at the oars or taking his turn at the tiller, breath steaming into icy clouds, the grim task never easing up.  More bodies to be numbered and recorded, more personal effects to be bagged and tagged.  He longed to be back in port, to tear off his clothing, peel away his skin, throw himself into something that didn't scream of death. (36-37)

The difficult task of pulling bodies from the freezing water and then recording their personal items so they could be identified was a horrific experience for this group of seamen and one that affected many for years after.  Angus is overwhelmed and because of his weariness he ends up with an object in his pocket that should have been tagged for one of the bodies.  This object links him to the woman throughout his days and makes him crazy with grief, regret and her ghost.

Pick up this book to find out how Angus and Kevin are connected through time.

Happy Halloween.

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