Title: SOS TitanicSOS Titanic
Author: Eve Bunting
Pages: 246
Recommended Ages: 10 & up
Star Rating: ★★★★

A story set on the Titanic!

The Story.

Barry O’Neill wasn’t sure that he wanted to travel to America on the Titanic. He had lived all of his life in Ireland with his grandparents. His parents had acted as though he didn’t really exist – but now, suddenly, they want him to live with them with Brooklyn. Why the change?

But Barry has no choice in the matter. Those choices have been made for him. Still, it’s up to his own wits and fists to ensure that the unruly Flynn boys don’t find some way to dispose of him. They hate his family with a vengeance. But what have the O’Neills ever done to the Flynns?

Suddenly none of that matters anymore – the ship is sinking and unless a miracle happens, most of them will go down with the ship. Will Barry and the Flynn boys survive?

Discussion.

I was a little worried coming into this story. It seems as though everyone has it in to ruin the Titanic – it’s the “perfect” setting for stories of romance, rebellion, class warfare, and all out weirdness. Thankfully, SOS Titanic didn’t follow this pattern.

Barry is a sweet guy – he’s been living with his grandparents and he thinks the world of them. When his parents demand that he come to America, he is understandably sore about leaving the only loving figures he’s ever known. However, he does not rage or whine about the decisions that are made.

Mr. Scollins, hired by Barry’s grandparents, is Barry’s chaperone. Mr. Scollins is hyper-conscientious of his duties (in reality, he’s just scared he won’t get the money promised to him if Barry is hurt). Barry occasionally gives him the slip to explore different parts of the ship.

The Flynn boys, who are traveling in steerage, maintain a heckling of Barry. Barry prepares himself to respond with force if their attentions every become dangerous, but he never initiates their feisty interactions.

It is obvious that Barry is attracted to Pegeen Flynn (and she to him), but nothing romantic happens. They meet alone twice, once for her to return something to him, and once for him to warn her about the low number of lifeboats. When the Titanic begins to sink, Barry instantly thinks of Pegeen and spends a lot of time looking for her. In the end he finds her and protects her.

SOS Titanic did not attempt to disguise the fact that several people on board dreamed of and “foresaw” the doom of the Titanic. One of these people was Barry’s steward, Watley, who believes he can see the future and warns Barry that the Titanic will sink. Barry thinks that he (Watley) “sounded like one of those solemn mechanical fortune-tellers in the glass booths at summer fairs. Put in a penny and he’d tell you the future, standing there with his mouth not moving but the card popping out of the slot below.” [pg. 50]

One man says he thought he saw a mermaid.

Barry sees Mrs. Adair, one of the passengers on the ship, walking with a man who is not her husband. She explains to Barry that her husband is violent to her and their daughter and that she plans to divorce him and marry the man she was seen with.

Barry refers to snobby rich people as ‘jackasses’. Also, when he discovers that Pegeen and her brothers are locked below deck, he says ‘d—‘ twice. (Fully spelled). Variations of God’s name are used twice.

Conclusion. Despite the numerous cautions, I found SOS Titanic to be a worthwhile read.

Review © 2014 Laura Verret

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