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.


Just Deserts

*I received Just Deserts by Eric Walters as a submission for the YABA

I thought Walters did a fabulous job of capturing the reader’s attention in the first few chapters. He expertly portrayed the drunken, hung over, and self-centered teenage mind of a rich but neglected boy. Being dropped in the desert, and left to fend for yourself is a creative, although perhaps over-dramatic punishment for being kicked out of yet another boarding school. There was some good action and adventure, although not as much as I anticipated given the promising first few chapters.

The novel was a bit too didactic for my taste, with a few cheesy after-school special moments. These were made tolerable by the self-awareness of it, with the characters joking that they sounded like bumper stickers. I did like the references to history and philosophy. Ethan develops a relationship with an orange that is reminiscent of Tom Hanks and Wilson the volleyball in the film Castaway. There were the odd laugh out loud moments.

I think this book will appeal more to athletic teenage boys than it did to me. Not that I did not enjoy it, I finished it in one day (two sittings) and think it was well done. I’m actually going to recommend it to my father because he loves to run and there is a lot in this book about running.