Review Title: YA Historical Fiction At Its Best (review of The Stars in April by Peggy Wirgau)
Reviewer: Janice S. Garey
***** 5 Stars
What a gem, a diamond in the night sky! This well researched historical novel will transport readers on an older ship ocean voyage from India to England. From there the tale advances onward toward NY aboard the maiden and tragically ended voyage of the Titanic.
The story evolves through the eyes and heart of the main character, Ruth Becker, a twelve year old girl. She has a physically afflicted younger brother who requires specialized medical treatments available in the USA but not in India. Ruth begins the trip with raw emotions of anger and sadness at leaving behind her hopes and dreams built up in India that included playing her violin in a symphony orchestra, experiencing the continuing friendship with her best friend for life, and enjoying being the oldest daughter in a family complete with both parents together. She resents her father’s decision to break up the family and send her to the States with her mother and siblings while he stays behind in India where she longs to be.
This story portrays well the differences in classes as the passengers are divided up on the ships based on who could afford to travel in luxury and who could not. Ruth’s indominable curiosity about people allows her to befriend individuals of all classes. This added variety of characters keeps the pages turning to see who she will meet next. The young friends she makes are bold and perfect companions for explorations and adventures at sea on the two passenger ships.
Ruth’s character goes through an emotional growth spurt when the Titanic begins to sink. She has to consider what holds the most value in life. This true story reels in the tender-hearted at this critical point of being privy to the conflict within Ruth as she makes hard choices. No spoilers, but this book will make people consider their own treasures and what they would give up to save a life or bring comfort to a hurting person when pressed into a corner or a lifeboat.
The book also includes frequent handwritten notes referred to as Sky Reports for her friend in India. This delightful extra adds interest and a scientific draw for those who enjoy sky watching.
I am very thankful to have received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. I am under no obligation to give a favorable review. I have presented my honest opinion after reading the book. Based on that, I highly recommend this book. I look forward to reading more from this remarkable and talented author.