The Stars in April

Illuminate YA Fiction. Mar. 2021. 248p. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781645263074.
Gr 5-8–Guntar, India, 1912: “Why do I have to leave?” asks angry 12-year-old Ruth Becker. Born and raised in India, Ruth is the oldest daughter of white American parents serving as orphanage directors. Her young brother needs medical treatment, so the Becker family (minus her father) travels to the United States to seek care. Ruth is sad to leave her beloved India and her best friend Sajni. She blames her mother, but especially her father. The weeks-long journey is by train, small steamer, and ultimately, the RMS Titanic. Told through Ruth’s journal entries and letters to Sajni, the story moves smoothly from depot to port cities along the way. Once aboard the opulent Titanic, Ruth and her family enjoy their position as second-class passengers. The trip allows Ruth to meet people from different socioeconomic classes and realize the difficulty of her parents’ decision to uproot their family. As the Titanic steams toward her doom, the first-person account lends tension to the impending disaster. On the tragic night of April 14th and 15th, Ruth becomes separated from her mother and siblings. Rescued by the Carpathia, Ruth cannot find her family among the survivors and fears the worst. Ruth learns how strong she is, how much her family loves her, and how thinking of others can help overcome tragedy. This is a well-researched and well-paced title. Back matter includes a bibliography, family photos of the Becker family, and additional information about the Titanic survivors.
VERDICT This historical novel moves quickly and shares a little slice of the ever-fascinating subject of the Titanic. A winner.

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