Review Blog

May 11 2012

Forget Me Not: The Story of One Family's Voyage on the Titanic by Sue Lawson

cover image

Black Dog Books. ISBN: 9781742032108
(Ages: 14+) Recommended. This is a well plotted novel that builds slowly to its inevitable climax focusing on two fictional siblings, Thomas and Eve. Lawson surrounds them with a mixture of other made-up and real people, all serving an important purpose when the Titanic hits the iceberg. They are authentic teens (daring and disobedient) and siblings (moody towards each other, yet fiercely loyal), and their adventures capture the mood and atmosphere of the unsinkable ship well.
There are a multitude of fascinating details, due to Thomas and his new friend, Hugh's fondness for exploring beyond their social status. Not only do they explore first-class (the gymnasium and the Grand Staircase), but they also slip down to the Orlop deck where the boiler rooms are. Lawson brings the vessel alive, and even though there is a bitter sweetness to the constant reference to the 'unsinkable ship', there was also frustration at everyone's arrogance and unshakeable faith in the design and build.
There are a few familiar contrivances here: A strict mother hiding unbearable pain; the generous father over compensating for his wife's inability to show warmth to her children; Helpful stewards who turn a blind eye to the reckless behaviour, and the almost psychic feelings of impending doom felt by Eve, all but ridiculed by the adults. But in the end, these don't detract from the narrative, which is engaging and meaningful.
A timely book, given the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, and a useful way to engage teenagers with this historical event. Themes include family, women's place in society, societal expectations, and historical studies.
Trisha Buckley

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