I love the Titanic. Since this is the one hundredth anniversary of the ship’s sinking, I’m finding myself fascinated by all the new material out there to learn more about the ill-fated ship. This particular book is great because it covers everything. It may not cover it in full-length-adult-non-fiction depth, but it covered it all well enough for me to learn new things. I especially loved the great statistics at the end about the percentages of total passengers in first, second, and third class and the break down of men, women, and children in each who survived.
Though the book is non-fiction, it tells the story well enough to stand out. Well-written non-fiction can pull you into the story like fiction, and this one does exactly that. To me, a child of the 80’s, sometimes the Titanic can seem like that — fiction. I have to step back sometimes and remember that this actually happened. There is a spot in the Atlantic Ocean where 1,500 people floated in life jackets until they died of hypothermia in the middle of the night. And that is terrifying.
I think that is why the Titanic fascinates us. We all wonder what we would have done in the face of such chaos and tragedy. Would we escape? Become heroes? Accept our fate with peace or terror? The photos and descriptions provide by McPherson left me questioning all of those things. Of course, then I found myself wanting to watch the 1997 Leonardo DiCaprio/Kate Winslet Titanic movie and watch the big-budget Hollywood version of what happened. In fact, two of my favorite quotes in the book come from the movie’s director, James Cameron:
“I made Titanic because I wanted to dive to the shipwreck, not because I particularly wanted to the movie.”
“[The Titanic is] the quintessential story of loss, of coming to terms with death, heroism and cowardice, and the full spectrum of human response before, during, and after a crisis.”
Final Grade: B I’ve said before that it’s hard for a non-fiction book to get an A from me, and that holds with this book. It’s a FABULOUS read, a great non-fiction book, and it definitely stands out among other young adult non-fiction titles and Titanic books alike. But non-fiction always falls a little short of “OMG AMAZING” for me. And that’s okay! My students will love this one, so will adults, and I highly recommend it for everyone over the age of eleven. I could see this paring well for a fiction/non-fiction unit with The Watch The Ends The Night by Allan Wolf, which covers a lot of the same people.
Are you as fascinated by the Titanic as I am? What is is about disasters that fascinates us? And will you go see Rose and Leo on the big screen when they return this spring?