The Stars In April by Peggy Wirgau is a powerful YA novel surrounding the maiden voyage of the Titanic. The story is grounded in fact being set around twelve year old Ruth Becker and her family. It is a novel that needs to be read as we witness the love, bravery and courage of many.
The action is set from March 1912 to early April 1912 as the Becker family (minus Ruth’s father) journey from India to America in search of medical help for two year old Richard.
The story is seen through the eyes of Ruth. We ‘hear’ the events in the first person as we ‘journey’ on a train to the coast, a ship to Southampton and the ill-fated Titanic. We become intimately acquainted with the lively per-teen. We empathise with her feelings as she leaves her beloved India behind.
As with all journeys, Ruth encounters some characters along the way from acrobats to young women to a big-hearted Irish family. Huge personalities encourage Ruth to try new things. Her sense of joi de vivre and adventure is infectious.
Ruth loves deeply and therefore hurts deeply. Her bad mood against her father for deciding to leave India is keenly ‘felt’ by the reader. Even in her anger, Ruth keeps her link with her father alive as she studies the stars alone. “He’d [Papa] told me we would see the same stars even though I was far from home.” The stars unite even though apart.
Ruth loves to meet new people. She befriends the O’Hara’s in third class. They share what little they have. There is much more life and fun happening in third class than in first.
Four year old Marion adores her sister Ruth. The bond between them is felt by the reader and is beautiful.
We witness a life surrendered to God as a character declares on April 13th “No matter what happens, I’m in God’s hands.”
Peggy Wirgau has written a totally gripping story. As the novel sped towards April 14th, I read with intrepidation, heart rate rising and clasped hands. My tension rose along with the water level.
There are photos included at end of the book. It was lovely to be able to put faces to names.
The Stars In April is a perfect read for ages ten to adult. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The historian in me was satisfied, the reader in me was entertained. For younger readers it will be both an education and an enjoyable read. For all readers this is a human interest story and easy to empathise with. It is not just a story but it is a true story. It really happened and you cannot fail to be moved by that.
The Stars In April is a book crying out to be read as we see the brave souls on that dreadful night of 14th April 1912.
I will leave you with my favourite quote:
“My husband’s policy is simply to love them (orphans in India) and teach them they are valuable to God.”