Hi friends! I’m so sorry that I’ve been MIA for the past couple of weeks. School is really ramping up these last two or three weeks, but I’m excited for it to be over. On the other hand, I have been reading a bit, and I actually wanted to save writing this review for after I watched the film Titanic. Which was a very heartbreaking film but also added a lot of visionary nuance to the book we’re talking about today!
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.
Six Chinese passengers out of eight survived the sinking of the Titanic, four of whom were in third-class. Less than 24 hours after arriving safely in America, they were deported underneath the terrible Chinese Exclusion Act. As attempts are being made to recover the stories of these men, Stacey Lee took this recently uncovered account and let it inspire this novel. Luck of the Titanic follows the perspective of a British-Chinese acrobat named Valora Luck who boards the Titanic in order to find her twin brother Jamie, so they can go to America together.
Yeah, so, um, there was a lot of crying as one might expect. This was just a heartwrenching story of family and female empowerment, with themes of racism and classism mixed in. Valora, or just Val, is a tenacious and talented young woman who’s sense of loyalty to both her fellow Chinese friends and her brother never waver. It was fascinating watching her wrestle with her own perspective of her dead parents, vs. her brother’s. Personally, I thought that both their characters have excellent arcs.
The subplots were all done very well, balancing different layers of story, all while streamlining the tragic story that we all know so well. I don’t know much about the actual layout of the Titanic, but the author clearly put a lot of research into it because everything was written in a very detailed manner. I could easily envision the sprawling decks, the extravagant staircases, and the stifling boiler rooms.
The dialogue was fantastic!! I very much adored the little sibling quips and the sense of camaraderie between both the Chinese passengers and the interactions between women. This is a character-driven novel, and the characters were extremely well-written with great emphasis on both class and race. I
I will say that I found it rather slow at times. However, it’s slow in the way that the film Titanic is slow: it takes place in a single location, focused mainly on two characters. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, rather, just understand the type of book you’re getting into. My other point that I wanted to touch on was the fact that my least favorite trope of ever (yes, it might be official now) was present. The insta-love is semi-understandable and doesn’t overpower Val’s ambitions, but that doesn’t stop it from feeling like an unnecessary addition.
So that’s it! I really do want to get back to blogging regularly soon, but I hope you enjoyed the review! I give this a solid 4/5 stars. You can preorder Luck of the Titanic here or add it to Goodreads here. Talk to me below!