cover artCaroline Pignat brings to life a historical tragedy and fictional love in Unspeakable. Similar to the story in the film Titanic, but undeniably original, this novel captures the fear, pain, and survivor’s guilt from the shipwreck of The Empress of Ireland.

“No, the waters didn’t take me that night, but I was drowning, still, in survivor’s guilt” (pg 176)

The friendships and romances are memorable.┬áLearning about Jim’s perspective gradually as Ellie reads his journal is heartbreaking as we see the lost opportunities that so many people suffered.

The class divide on the ships makes you think about society and priorities. In shipwrecks, and in life, it is more dangerous to be in the lower class. Having a protagonist who grew up wealthy but is disowned and needs to work as a stewardess (in a time that was like serfdom) allows readers a view of the larger picture. She sees the contrast all the more starkly, making the transition.

“We write our lives by the choices we make. Like it or not, that becomes our story”

Ellie is a strong character who keeps her integrity through hardships. She experiences more hardships than many could bare but keeps her wits about her, stays true to herself, and fights for what is important to her. She is ostracized for her teen pregnancy, hounded by reporters for being one of the few survivors of disaster, and judged for following her heart. She makes mistakes, but the way she deals with them make her a good role model for readers.

A fantastic read for fans of adventure, survival stories and romance.


The Comic Book War

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The Comic Book War is a Canadian novel set during World War 2. It explores some of the hardships faced in Canada at that time. The stresses of having family members in the war, supply shortages, and the pressure to dedicate all of your energy and funds to the war effort all featured heavily.

I have to say I find the premise of this to be too juvenile for teens. A delusional boy who feels that reading comics keeps his brothers safe on the battlefield because of a piece of meteor he wears around his neck is just not sophisticated enough for contemporary teens. I think maybe 10-12 year-olds would enjoy it if they are from old fashioned families and are interested in both history and comics. That’s a very specific niche.

Maybe it’s because it’s not a time period I know extensively but I found the dialogue really unrealistic. Did people ever really use the corny expressions that are only used sarcastically in the modern world? I think the “golly gee” factor will alienate most teen readers.

The plot was predictable. I guessed the fate of key characters, and a few “big reveal” moments fell flat because I was anticipating them.

That being said, it was an easy read that could potentially fill the void of things to read aloud to an ailing grandparent, or listen to as a family on a car trip. It’s juvenile but might appeal to the elderly who want to share part of their lives with another generation. While I can’t see many teens I know reading this independently it could serve as a family bonding exercise.