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Luck of the Titanic
Cover of Luck of the Titanic
Luck of the Titanic
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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...
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...
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Description-

  • 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.
    Valora Luck has two things: a ticket for the biggest and most luxurious ocean liner in the world, and a dream of leaving England behind and making a life for herself as a circus performer in New York. Much to her surprise though, she's turned away at the gangway; apparently, Chinese aren't allowed into America.
    But Val has to get on that ship. Her twin brother Jamie, who has spent two long years at sea, is there, as is an influential circus owner, whom Val hopes to audition for. Thankfully, there's not much a trained acrobat like Val can't overcome when she puts her mind to it.
    As a stowaway, Val should keep her head down and stay out of sight. But the clock is ticking and she has just seven days as the ship makes its way across the Atlantic to find Jamie, perform for the circus owner, and convince him to help get them both into America.
    Then one night the unthinkable happens, and suddenly Val's dreams of a new life are crushed under the weight of the only thing that matters: survival.
    * This audiobook includes a downloadable PDF of resources from the printed book.

Excerpts-

  • From the cover

    1

    April 10, 1912

    When my twin, Jamie, left, he vowed it wouldn’t be forever. Only a week before Halley’s Comet brushed the London skies, he kissed my cheek and set off. One comet in, one comet out. But two years away is more than enough time to clear his head, even in the coal-­thickened air at the bottom of a steamship. Since he hasn’t come home, it is time to chase down the comet’s tail.

    I try not to fidget while I wait my turn on the first-­class gangway of White Star Line’s newest ocean liner. A roofed corridor—­to spare the nobs the inconvenience of sunshine—­leads directly from the “boat train” depot to this highest crossing. At least we are far from the rats on Southampton dock below, which is crawling with them.

    Of course, some up here might consider me a rat.

    The couple ahead of me eyes me warily, even though I am dressed in one of Mrs. Sloane’s smartest traveling suits—­shark grey to match her usual temper, with a swath of black bee-­swarm lace pinned from shoulder to shoulder. A lifetime of those dodgy looks teaches you to ignore them. Haven’t I already survived the journey from London? A half a day’s travel, packed into a smoky railcar, next to a man who stank of sardines. And here I am, so close to the finish line, I can nearly smell Jamie—­like trampled ryegrass and the milk biscuits he is so fond of eating.

    An ocean breeze cools my cheeks. Several stories below in either direction, onlookers crowd the dock, staring up at the ship rising six stories before them. Its hull gleams, a wall of liquid black with a quartet of smokestacks so wide you could drive a train through them. Stately letters march across its side: “TITANIC.” On the third-­class gangway a hundred feet to my left, passengers sport a variety of costume: headscarves, patterned kaftans, fringed shawls of botany wool, tasseled caps, and plain dungarees and straw hats. I don’t see a single Chinese face among them. Has Jamie boarded already? With this crowd, I may have missed him.

    Then again, he isn’t traveling alone, but with seven other Chinese men from his company. All are being transported to Cuba for a new route after coal strikes here berthed their steamship.

    Something cold unspools in my belly. I received his last letter a month ago. Time enough for things to change. What if Jamie’s company decided to send them somewhere other than Cuba, maybe a new route in Asia or Africa?

    The line shifts. Only a few more passengers ahead of me.

    Jamie! I call in my mind, a game I often played growing up. He doesn’t always hear, but I like to think he does when it matters.

    In China, a dragon-­phoenix pair of boy-and-girl twins is considered auspicious, and so Ba bought two suckling pigs to celebrate our birth, roasted side by side to show their common lot. Some may think that macabre, but to the Chinese, death is just a continuation of life on a higher plane with our ancestors.

    Jamie, your sister is here. Look for me.

    Won’t he be surprised to see me? Shocked may be more accurate—­Jamie has never handled surprise well—­but I will get him to see that it is time for him, forus, to move on to bigger and better things, just as our father hoped.

    I think back to the telegram I sent him when Ba passed five months ago.

    Ba hit his head on post and died. Please come home. Ever your Val.

    Jamie wrote back:

    Rec’d news and hope you are bearing up okay. Very sorry, but I have eight months left on my contract and cannot...

About the Author-

  • Stacey Lee is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels The Downstairs GirlLuck of the Titanic, Under a Painted Sky and Outrun the Moon, the winner of the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. She is a fourth-generation Chinese American and a founding member of We Need Diverse Books. Born in Southern California, she graduated from UCLA and then got her law degree at UC Davis King Hall. She lives with her family outside San Francisco. You can visit Stacey at staceyhlee.com. Or follow her on Twitter @staceyleeauthor.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from April 5, 2021
    After two years apart from her twin brother, Jamie, British Chinese Valora Luck, 17, is boarding the Titanic, intent on finding Jamie, a coal worker heading to Cuba alongside seven other Chinese men. When the Chinese Exclusion Act results in Val being turned away at the first-class gangway despite her ticket, she engages the childhood acrobatic arts training the twins’ late father provided, climbing aboard with the assistance of white aspiring American haute couturier April Hart. Val is intent on gaining an audience with a partial owner of the Ringling Brothers Circus, certain that it’s the siblings’ chance to go big-time in New York. With cleverness and determination, Val dons disguises to navigate between classes and decks, securing a public audience with him. But there are those who would see them fail, and soon, circumstances beyond their control throw everyone’s plans—and lives—into question. Lee (The Downstairs Girl) deftly sketches a compassionate cast and immerses readers in the ship’s architecture and socially stratified atmosphere, sustaining suspense throughout by foreshadowing the disaster to come. A finely crafted historical exploration of identity, class, and family that resonates through the present. Back matter includes an author’s note. Ages 12–up. Agent: Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary.

  • AudioFile Magazine As she's done previously, author Stacey Lee finds a fascinating bit of unexplored history and writes fiction that enlightens audiobook listeners, this time about mistreatment aboard the TITANIC after the Chinese Exclusion Act. Narrator Rebecca Yeo's crisp British accents convince listeners that British-Chinese heroine Valora Luck has the daring to stowaway among the wealthy in first class. Yeo's accents and emotions show both range and seamless transitions whether she's portraying Chinese characters, posh Brits, or Valora's mother's humble roots. Yeo also expresses Valora's determination to be united with her twin brother, Jamie, who is a circus acrobat in New York City. Stacey Lee's two author's notes reveal the depth of her research and considerations she took while writing her novel. S.W. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award � AudioFile 2021, Portland, Maine

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