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Luck of the Titanic

by Stacey Lee

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1109199,793 (4.05)2

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Intriguing historical novel. Gutsy heroine, great group of characters surrounding her, sad and surprising ending. The author's notes at the back add to the reader's understanding of the way events unfolded. This is a book that will make you think every so often after you finish it. ( )
  sennebec | Aug 26, 2021 |
Valora Luck is determined to get aboard the Titanic by hook or by crook: she knows her twin brother, Jamie, is on board, and her goal is to convince him to show off their circus skills to a Ringling man, Albert Ankeny Stewart) on board so that he will get them into America, despite the Chinese Exclusion Act. Val has an upward battle, however, and not just because (as readers know) the ship is doomed. Jamie has found his own band of brothers and now prefers coal-shoveling to tightrope acts; Jamie also blames their Chinese father for his harebrained schemes and his drinking, and blames himself for their English mother's death. Luckily, Val is endlessly inventive, and quickly makes an ally in American April Hart, a clothing designer. Jamie, too, has an ally in first class, Charlotte Fine. The twins' scrappiness and determination are crucial once the Titanic hits the iceberg and begins to sink, and they face blatant racism when they attempt to get onto the lifeboats.

There have been any number of Titanic books, but by featuring a Chinese-English acrobat, Stacey Lee's book provides a fresh angle on the tragedy.


Luxury is like good news, hard to enjoy without someone to share it with. (64)

Don't spend too long looking behind you, or you'll miss out on what's ahead. (Mum's advice, 65)

Isn't that like life? Two people look at the same object but see two different things. (81-82)

Being in the same boat does not make us the same [equal]. (97)

"I know it's not fair, but you've got to lower your standards to be happy." (Jamie to Val, 162)

"There is a saying: If you always give, you will always have." (Tao, 195)

Why are we always called upon to show greater generosity of spirit? (206)

Mum always said God gave us two hands, one for helping ourselves and one for helping others...Drummer is the rare sort born with a pair for helping others. (220)

Maybe I have been acting like Ba. I thought what was best for me was best for [Jamie]. I didn't listen to what he wanted. (278)

I'm not a leaver. People can leave me, but I'll never leave them when I'm still needed. (327) ( )
  JennyArch | Aug 10, 2021 |
I absolutely loved reading this book!!! I love reading (or consuming any content really) about the Titanic and this book was no exception, but wow was this one good.
Both the characters and story were amazing and the book is overall very well done and beautifully written. I loved all of the facts in this book and that even after all of the books I’ve already read there is always more to learn. I also really like the character Valora in the book. She really kept the story going and created so many cool twists in the story.
I loved the perspective of this book. I’ve never read a titanic book like it before and it was something I didn’t know I needed in my life.
Overall this book was amazing. I really enjoyed reading it and would definitely recommend snd read again. After reading Luck of the Titanic by Stacy Lee I honestly can’t wait to read more from her.
  ladybug55 | Jun 13, 2021 |
Such a great and well-executed idea to focus on the Chinese passengers on board the Titanic. Not only do the racial inequities expand on the classism that we know from other books and movies, this also succeeds in re-writing some of the horrible wrongs that the author mentions at the end of the book regarding how the Chinese passengers were perceived.

It seems a little unlikely that a teenager could pass for an older woman for an extended time period (her face is covered but I’m pretty sure there were occasions where other parts of her skin showed and I don’t care how wealthy you are and how many pricey moisturizers you slather on, an older person’s skin is going to have a tough time passing for a teen). But that said I was mostly happy to suspend disbelief as I enjoyed seeing Valora pull the wool over people’s eyes and I very much liked her friendship with April.

I love a heroine with career goals and aspirations, particularly those as exciting as joining the circus and I wouldn’t want less of that in this novel, however, I do wish equal time had been given to the romance since the chemistry felt genuine, I liked them together, there just weren’t quite enough scenes for their relationship to have as big of an emotional impact as it might have.

The other relationships did go a long way to filling that gap for me though, with siblings reunited, with Wink and Olly, April and Charlotte, there was a lovely found family quality that had me very much caring about what happened to everyone in Valora’s group. Admittedly I came to this book for the edge of your seat hitting the iceberg tension and suspense (which this delivered in the final third), but those scenes wouldn’t have mattered nearly as much without characters that I very much wanted to see survive. ( )
  SJGirl | May 23, 2021 |

Valora misses her brother, and she needs to get him back. She sneaks on to the Titanic, where Jamie is riding, to reconnect with him after two years being apart. I loved Valora’s spicy nature and her refusal to bow down to what everyone—or anyone, really—wanted. Her ability to play both the role of Mrs. Sloan and a member of Jamie’s crew was admirable. I loved her developing friendships with April and Charlotte.

Jamie and Valora made a very realistic pair of twins that often annoyed each other. I loved the familial bonds between all of the Johnnies.

I was so nervous to figure out which two of the crew we’d be losing (from the front of the book). And I honestly didn’t see that coming. I was so excited to see where Valora and Bo would go, where she would make her life in America. And my heart just got ripped out instead. At least Jamie found Charlotte. I’m still emotionally raw from this and need time to recover. That’s the sign of a good book. ( )
  taylorkillpack13 | May 9, 2021 |
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