Distant Waves: a novel of the Titanic
By Suzanne Weyn
Scholastic Press, 2009. 330 pgs. Juvenile/young adult fiction.
Raised by a strong, spirited mother who works as a ghost medium, Jane Taylor's life is far from ordinary. Along with her sisters--Mimi, Blythe, Emma, and Amelie--she finds herself transplanted at a young age to Spirit Vale, a gathering place for all people who claim to be mediums for the spirit world. Despite such an environment, Jane manages to maintain strong common sense and even develops skepticism towards spiritualism. When she travels with her sister Mimi to New York in order to interview the fascinating scientist, Tesla, the lives of all the Taylor women are affected by the chain of following events, most particularly by Mimi's invitation to sail on the Titanic.
It is rather misleading that this book is titled "a novel of the Titanic." Although the infamous ship does make its appearance in the story, it doesn't surface until the later portion. It makes for a dramatic ending but may be a bit disappointing for readers who expect the book to be all about the Titanic. That being said, I actually preferred Weyn's decision to leave the Titanic scene for the end. The reader gets the chance to know the characters as they grow up and develop a stronger feeling for them rather than being thrown into their lives only while they are on the ship. I thought the constant stream of two dimensional famous characters was too forced and really detracted from the story, although some readers may be delighted with such references. The thread of romance was a nice touch and the tie between history and the supernatural was quite intriguing. This book might be most appropriate for 5th and 6th grade readers and could definitely be an option for readers needing historical fiction but wanting an interesting story. Although not Weyn's best work, it was still worth reading.