Review: No Moon by Irene N. Watts

25 Jun

Tundra Books, 2010

A story of reliance and resilience. Did you call out to us, Johnny, before your small body was dragged down under the water? Why didn’t we hear you? I am sorry! I’ll never forget.

Louisa Gardener is the fourteen-year-old nursemaid to the young daughters of a wealthy, titled family living in London, England, in 1912.

Despite the bullying Nanny Mackintosh, for whom she is an extra pair of hands, she loves her work and her young charges. Then everything changes. The family decides to sail to New York aboard the Titanic. An accident to the children’s nanny, only days prior to the sailing, means that Louisa must go in her stead. She cannot refuse, although she dreads even the mention of the ocean. Memories she has suppressed, except in nightmares, come crowding back.

When Louisa was five and her sister seven years old, their two-year-old brother died on an outing to the seaside. Since that time, Louisa has had a fear of the ocean. She blames herself for the accident, though she has been told it wasn’t her fault.

If Louisa refuses to go on the voyage, she will be dismissed, and she will never get beyond the working-class life she has escaped from.

From Tundra Books website.

I haven’t read a lot of historical fiction in the past. It isn’t because I hate the genre, but more because I just didn’t have a strong interest in it. But in the last year I’ve read a couple of great adult historical fiction novels, including The Day the Falls Stood Still. I recently decided to give YA historical fiction a go, and to my delight it’s fast becoming one of my favorite genres.

No Moon definitely qualifies as historical fiction. And even though it’s story line is somewhat centered around the ill-fated Titanic, the Titanic plot line was secondary to Louisa’s story. So, even though most of us know what happened to the Titanic, this retelling never appeared stale. Nor was that part of the novel over-dramatic and heavy, which I appreciated.

Watts’ created such a wonderful character in Louisa that her decision of whether or not  to go on the Titanic weighed on me. I felt vested in what happened to her and the family she was working for so much that at times I wanted to yell “Don’t go!”. The will she or won’t she element of the book presented some nice moments of tension for both the character and the reader.

This was a short read (232 pages) but very meaty in detail and character development.  I definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys YA historical fiction.

A big curtsy to Tundra Books for the review copy.

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