Thursday, October 16, 2014

Shelf Life [kids]

Unspeakable by Caroline Pignat, 319 pages.
@SPL:  YA FIC Pigna

Haunted by the memories, Ellie would never forget her friend Molly’s pale face as she sank beneath the waves, the screams of passengers flung into the icy St. Lawrence, the sight of the huge ship as it sank and later, the long lines of lifeless bodies and the agony of the bereaved families. And she would never forget Jim. Had her beloved been able, by some slim chance, to survive the disaster?  If so, where was he?  Would she ever see him again?

Despite the memories, there were no words for Ellie to describe to anyone else the utter tragedy that had unfolded with the sinking of the Empress of Ireland.  It was unspeakable – until a hard-nosed newspaper reporter, Wyatt Steele, showed up with Jim’s journal and a “deal” for Ellie. She could have the journal one page at a time… only if she told him everything – absolutely everything – that she knew about the disaster.

When the Empress of Ireland sank in May 1914 after a collision, 1012 people - many of them children - drowned in the icy St. Lawrence River near Rimouski. The death toll was higher than that of the Titanic tragedy, and the sinking happened so quickly that many victims were still in their cabin beds when they drowned. The beautifully-written story of Ellie, a stewardess who survived Canada’s worse maritime disaster, is based on historical fact. Alternating between the past and the present, it is a poignant story of love and loss, with some unexpected turns of events as Ellie searches for purpose and hope in her future.   
Caroline Pignat is the Governor General’s Award-winning author of Greener Grass.

** Recommended for ages 14 years and up.

Sorrow's KnotSorrow’s Knot by Erin Bow, 342 pages.

Kitchener-Waterloo author Erin Bow’s Shadow’s Knots is another poignant, eloquent and eerie story for both teens and adults.

The Shadowed People have long been protected from the dead by the magical strength of the knots that are tied by a skilled binder. Their very survival is dependent on these knots, because the dead, who wish to prey upon the living, are restless … and hungry.

Otter is descended from a long line of female binders. She expects to become the village binder someday, inheriting this power from her mother, Willow - but it is not to be.

Out of love for her daughter, Willow decides to spare Otter from the lonely, difficult life of a binder and chooses someone else as her apprentice.

Then the village of Westmore is attacked. Willow loses her power and dies. Otter, who is untrained, may be the only one who can save her people from the sinister spirits that threaten to destroy everyone in the village.

There is danger, loss, sadness and a constant dark suspense in this book – but there is also a determination to survive - and romance. There is magic, too, in this chilling yet alluring book that demonstrates so well the immense power of a perfectly-told story.

Erin Bow’s earlier novel is Plain Kate, the acclaimed winner of the 2011 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award.

** Recommended for ages 13 years and up.

These reviews appear in the Stratford Gazette. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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