Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Distant Waves: A Novel of the Titanic

Distant Waves: A Novel of the Titanic

Suzanne Weyn
For ages 12 and up
Scholastic, 2009   ISBN: 0545085721

When she is just four years old, Jane’s father dies and her mother, Maude Taylor, has to find a way to support herself and her children. Maude discovers that she appears to have a gift for speaking to the dead, or at least a gift for appearing to speak to the dead, and she decides to move to the little town of Spirit Vale. Spirit Vale is full of people who can predict the future and talk to the dead, and it the perfect place for Maude to set up a business of her own.

Just before they leave New York City for Spirit Vale, Maude and her children are almost killed by what appears to be an earthquake. In actual fact, a scientist called Nikola Tesla causes a localized earth tremor to occur when one of his inventions goes off. Maude and the children meet Tesla, and it is an encounter that Jane never forgets.

When she is a teen, Jane decides that she wants to write an article about Tesla. If the article is good enough, it might help her win a contest, and she might finally get the opportunity to get a real job as a journalist. So Jane and her older sister Mimi go to New York City to find Tesla. This time, their encounter with the scientist is less dramatic, but the repercussions of their time in New York are much greater. Indeed, as a result of their time in New York, Jane, Mimi and two of their other sisters end up traveling on the Titanic on her maiden voyage across the Atlantic.

In this thrilling book, the author beautifully weaves together fact and fiction. Many of the characters were real people, and many of the events described really did happen. It is also fascinating to read about Spirit Vale, a town based on real place called Lily Dale. With a combination of science, the supernatural, history, and romance, this is a book that will keep readers interested from start to finish.