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Luck of the Titanic

Author Stacey Lee
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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Downstairs Girl comes the richly imagined story of Valora and Jamie Luck, twin British-Chinese acrobats traveling aboard the Titanic on its ill-fated maiden voyage.

Valora Luck has two things: a ticket for the biggest and most luxurious ocean liner in the world, and a dream of leaving England behind and making a life for herself as a circus performer in New York. Much to her surprise though, she's turned away at the gangway; apparently, Chinese aren't allowed into America.

But Val has to get on that ship. Her twin brother Jamie, who has spent two long years at sea, is there, as is an influential circus owner, whom Val hopes to audition for. Thankfully, there's not much a trained acrobat like Val can't overcome when she puts her mind to it.

As a stowaway, Val should keep her head down and stay out of sight. But the clock is ticking and she has just seven days as the ship makes its way across the Atlantic to find Jamie, perform for the circus owner, and convince him to help get them both into America.

Then one night the unthinkable happens, and suddenly Val's dreams of a new life are crushed under the weight of the only thing that matters: survival.
© Jerrick Mitra
Stacey Lee is the New York Times bestselling author of historical and contemporary young adult fiction, including The Downstairs Girl, a Reese’s Book Club YA Pick, Luck of the Titanic, Under a Painted Sky, and Outrun the Moon, the winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. A native of southern California and a fourth-generation Chinese American, she is a co-founder of the We Need Diverse Books movement and writes stories for all kids (even the ones who look like adults). You can visit Stacey at StaceyHLee.com or follow her on Twitter and Instagram @staceyleeauthor View titles by Stacey Lee

1

April 10, 1912

When my twin, Jamie, left, he vowed it wouldn’t be forever. Only a week before Halley’s Comet brushed the London skies, he kissed my cheek and set off. One comet in, one comet out. But two years away is more than enough time to clear his head, even in the coal-­thickened air at the bottom of a steamship. Since he hasn’t come home, it is time to chase down the comet’s tail.

I try not to fidget while I wait my turn on the first-­class gangway of White Star Line’s newest ocean liner. A roofed corridor—­to spare the nobs the inconvenience of sunshine—­leads directly from the “boat train” depot to this highest crossing. At least we are far from the rats on Southampton dock below, which is crawling with them.

Of course, some up here might consider me a rat.

The couple ahead of me eyes me warily, even though I am dressed in one of Mrs. Sloane’s smartest traveling suits—­shark grey to match her usual temper, with a swath of black bee-­swarm lace pinned from shoulder to shoulder. A lifetime of those dodgy looks teaches you to ignore them. Haven’t I already survived the journey from London? A half a day’s travel, packed into a smoky railcar, next to a man who stank of sardines. And here I am, so close to the finish line, I can nearly smell Jamie—­like trampled ryegrass and the milk biscuits he is so fond of eating.

An ocean breeze cools my cheeks. Several stories below in either direction, onlookers crowd the dock, staring up at the ship rising six stories before them. Its hull gleams, a wall of liquid black with a quartet of smokestacks so wide you could drive a train through them. Stately letters march across its side: “TITANIC.” On the third-­class gangway a hundred feet to my left, passengers sport a variety of costume: headscarves, patterned kaftans, fringed shawls of botany wool, tasseled caps, and plain dungarees and straw hats. I don’t see a single Chinese face among them. Has Jamie boarded already? With this crowd, I may have missed him.

Then again, he isn’t traveling alone, but with seven other Chinese men from his company. All are being transported to Cuba for a new route after coal strikes here berthed their steamship.

Something cold unspools in my belly. I received his last letter a month ago. Time enough for things to change. What if Jamie’s company decided to send them somewhere other than Cuba, maybe a new route in Asia or Africa?

The line shifts. Only a few more passengers ahead of me.

Jamie! I call in my mind, a game I often played growing up. He doesn’t always hear, but I like to think he does when it matters.

In China, a dragon-­phoenix pair of boy-and-girl twins is considered auspicious, and so Ba bought two suckling pigs to celebrate our birth, roasted side by side to show their common lot. Some may think that macabre, but to the Chinese, death is just a continuation of life on a higher plane with our ancestors.

Jamie, your sister is here. Look for me.

Won’t he be surprised to see me? Shocked may be more accurate—­Jamie has never handled surprise well—­but I will get him to see that it is time for him, forus, to move on to bigger and better things, just as our father hoped.

I think back to the telegram I sent him when Ba passed five months ago.

Ba hit his head on post and died. Please come home. Ever your Val.

Jamie wrote back:

Rec’d news and hope you are bearing up okay. Very sorry, but I have eight months left on my contract and cannot get away. Write me details. Your Jamie.

Jamie would have known that Ba had been drunk when he hit his head, and I knew he wouldn’t mourn like I had. When you live with someone whose mistress is the bottle, you say your goodbyes long before they depart.

Someone behind me clears her throat. A woman in a pinstriped “menswear” suit that fits her slender figure like stripes on a zebra watches me, an ironic smile wrapped around her cigarette. I put her in her early twenties. Somehow dressing in men’s clothing seems to heighten her femininity, with her creamy skin and dark hair that swings to her delicate chin. She lifts that chin toward the entrance, where a severe-­looking officer stands like a box nail,a puzzled look on his face.

I bound forward on the balls of my feet, muscled from years of tightrope practice. Ba started training Jamie and me in the acrobatic arts as soon as we could walk. Sometimes, our acts were the only thing putting food on the table.

The severe officer watches me pull my ticket from my velvet handbag.

Mrs. Sloane, my employer, secretly purchased tickets for the two of us with her dragon’s hoard of money. She didn’t tell her son or his wife about the trip, or that she might stay in America indefinitely to get away from their money-­grubbing fists and greedy stares. After her unexpected demise, I couldn’t just let the tickets go to waste.

“Afternoon, sir. I am Valora Luck.”

The officer glances at the name written on my ticket, then back at me, his steep cheekbones sharp enough for a bird to land on. His navy visor with its distinctive company logo—­a gold wreath circling a red flag with a white star—­levers as he inspects me. “Destination?”

“New York, same as the rest.” Is that a trick question?

“New York, huh. Documentation?”

“You’re holding it right there, sir,” I say brightly, feeling the gangway shift uncomfortably.

He exchanges a guarded look with the crewman holding the passenger log. “Luck?”

“Yes.” In Cantonese, our surname sounds more like “Luke,” but the British like to pronounce it “luck.” Ba had decided to embrace good fortune and spell it that way, too. He’d intended the lofty-­sounding name “Valor” for Jamie, and “Virtue” for me—­after a sea shanty about a pair of boots—­but my British mum put the brakes on that. Instead, she named my brother James, and I got Valora. It’s a toss-­up as to which of us is more relieved.

“You’re Chinese, right?”

“Half of me.” Mum married Ba against the wishes of her father, a vicar in the local parish.

“Then at least half of you needs documentation. Ain’t you heard of the Chinese Exclusion Act? You can’t go to America without papers. That’s just how it is.”

“Wh-­what?” A pang of fear slices through me. The ChineseExclusion Act. What madness is this? They don’t like us here in England, but clearly, theyreally don’t like us in America. “But my brother’s on this ship, too, with the members of the Atlantic Steam Company. They’re all Chinese. Did they get on?”

“I don’t keep the third-­class register. You’ll need to get off my gangway.”

“B-­but my lady will be expecting me.”

“Where is she?”

I was prepared for this question. “Mrs. Sloane wanted me to board first to make sure her room was ready.” Of course, she had already pushed off on a different ship, one that wouldn’t be making a return journey, causing me great inconvenience. “We had her trunk forwarded here a week ago. I must lay out her things.” Mum’s Bible is in that trunk, within its pages my only picture of her and Ba. At last, my family will be reunited, even if it is just with a photo of our parents.

“Well, you’re not getting on this ship without the proper documentation.” He waves the ticket. “I’ll keep this for her for when she boards. Next!”

Waiting passengers begin to grumble behind me, but I ignore them. “No, please! I must board! I must—­”

“Robert, escort this girl off.”

The crewman beside the severe officer grabs my arm.

I shake him off, trying to muster a bit of respect. “I will see myself off.”

The woman in the menswear suit behind me steps aside to allow others to go before her, her amber eyes curiously assessing me. “I saw a group of Chinese men enter the ship early this morning,” she says in the no-­nonsense tone Americans use. “Perhaps you can check if your brother was one of them.”

“Thank you,” I say, grateful for the unexpected charity.

A family pushes past me, and I lose the woman in a flurry of people, parcels, and hats. I find myself being squeezed back into the train depot, like a piece of indigestible meat. Mrs. Sloane would’ve never stood for this outrage. Probably a rich lady like her would have persuaded them to let me on. But there is no one to speak for me now. I descend the staircase, then exit the depot onto the quay. The glare from the overcast sky cuts my eyes.

I figured the hardest part of this endeavor would be getting on without Mrs. Sloane. Never could I have foreseen this complication. What now? I need to be on that ship, or it could be months, maybe years, before I see Jamie again.

Something skirts over my boot and I recoil. A rat. They are certainly bold here, called by the peanut peddlers and meat pie hawkers. I shrink away from a pile of crates, where the rodents are making short work of a melon rind. The river slaps a rhythm against the Titanic’s hull, and my heart beats double time with the slosh.

Taking the American’s advice, I make tracks for the third-­class entrance farther down the quay toward the bow. Unlike in the first class, passengers crowd the gangway, tightening the queue as I near. I straighten my jacket. “I’m sorry, I just need to check if my brother made it through. Please let me pass.”

A man with a dark mustache chastises me in a foreign tongue, then jerks his head toward the end of the line. Heads nod, cutting me suspicious glares, and people move to block me. Seems wearing first-­class clothes will not gain me any advantage here.

Perhaps things would be different if I looked less like Ba and more like Mum. I exhale my frustration, a wind heated by a lifetime of being turned away for no good cause. Then I continue farther along the quay to the end of the line, passing dockworkers manhandling ropes and a navy uniform shining a torch into people’s eyeballs. They don’t check the first class for disease.

Beyond the nose of the ship, a couple of tugboats line up, ready to tow the Titanic from her mooring. Voices rise as people look up to a massive crane on the bow lowering a hoisting platform onto the quay ten paces away. A horn honks, and the queue shifts, making way for a sleek cinnamon-­red Renault motorcar. It stops right before the hoisting platform.

It could take an hour to reach the gangway from here. But even if Jamie has boarded, they still won’t let me on that ship without papers. Then theTitanic will leave, and he will be lost to me, possibly forever. His letters to me will be un­deliverable at the Sloanes’, and I will have no way of knowing which new route he was assigned. Jamie is the only real family I have left. I won’t let him idle his time on a steamship when he is destined for better things. Great things.

A woman with large nostrils glances at me, then pulls her son closer, spilling some of the peanuts from his paper cone. A rat slithers out from behind a crate and quietly feasts. “Stay away from that one. I’ve heard they eat dogs.”

Barely glancing at me, the boy returns his attention to the Renault.

A crewman gestures at the dockworkers positioned on either side of the car. “Easy now. Load her on.”

I am getting on that ship, by hook or by crook. Jamie is there, and I won’t let him leave without me. As for the Chinese Exclusion Act, put out the fire on your trousers before worrying about the one down the street. But how will I board?

The hoisting platform sways on its hook, the stage just big enough to hold the motorcar. A crewman reaches up and guides it the last few feet to the quay.

By hook.

I flex my back, my muscles twitching. There are more ways onto the Titanic than the gangways.

An Indie Bestseller
A YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Selection

“Lee gives life to the young women of the Chinese diaspora, writing them back into the story . . . So rich and focused are [Val's] schemes that as a reader, it's very easy to get caught up in them, and forget that before long, the only thing that will matter is the icy depths of the Atlantic.” —NPR

“Lovingly rendered, Val’s bittersweet story is one of hope, courage and the fight to survive.” —Ms. Magazine

“Historical romance fans will love Luck of the Titanic.” —Bustle

* “A gem from start to bittersweet finish.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* “A finely crafted historical exploration of identity, class, and family that resonates through the present.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review 

* “With a compassionate, strong heroine and a diverse cast, this is an exciting, important retelling of the Titanic tragedy.” —School Library Journal, starred review

* “[Lee's] writing draws the reader into this “night to remember” . . . Devastating.” —School Library Connection, starred review

* “Lee’s conversational style adds a freshness to the historical frame and achieves a thrilling balance between hope and anguish through budding romances and humor amid the looming tragedy.” —Booklist, starred review

“Lee creates vivid backstories for her characters and . . . memorable scenes of warmth, joy, romance, and daring . . . Heart-wrenching—and unexpected.” —The Horn Book

“Thrilling . . . Lee seamlessly weaves fact and fiction in Luck of the Titanic, inventing a story that gorgeously captures an era and a tragedy. ” —Shelf Awareness

“[A] lushly imagined, compelling novel . . . A compelling romance adds to the poignancy of the finale.” —Buffalo News

Mesmerizing . . . An admirable and engaging addition to the annals of fictional Titanic lore.” —BookPage

“Gives readers a picture of the vast differences in the experiences of the classes aboard the ship . . . Run-ins with various historical figures will receive appreciative nods from kids in the know . . . Devastating.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

“A breathtaking journey of survival.” —Brightly

“This is the kind of book I absolutely love. Heroism and heartbreaking tragedy, seen through the eyes of those who have been left off the pages of our history books.” —Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet  

“A thrilling historical page-turner. A must-read!” —Melissa de la Cruz, New York Times bestselling author of Alex & Eliza

“Stacey Lee has done it again—taken a fascinating slice of history and transformed it into a story lush with heart, heartache, and hope. This is the Titanic story you need.” —Marie Lu, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Skyhunter

“Stacey Lee’s superpower is her ability to turn history’s forgotten into today’s unforgettable; and you’ll never forget the terror and joy of travelling with Valora Luck, whose unsinkable spirit gleams like a rescue flare through the icy murk of the past.” —Elizabeth Wein, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Code Name Verity

“Stacey Lee has crafted one of my favorite kinds of historical reads; it’s a story that’s as thrilling as it is atmospheric and as joyful as it is heartbreaking. A masterful, gripping tale for the ages.” —Kerri Maniscalco, #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Stalking Jack the Ripper series

“This book will make you fall in love and then fall to pieces.” —Stephanie Garber, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Caraval series

“Hope, heroism, and heartache collide in an unforgettable story, suffused with love.” —Julie Berry, New York Times bestselling author of Lovely War

“With a plot as tense as a walk on a tightrope and a wily heroine you’ll cheer on till the very end, Luck of the Titanic is historical fiction at its most thrilling.” —Laura Ruby, two-time National Book Award finalist and author of Bone Gap

“Stacey Lee has breathed new life and love into this iconic voyage, with all the hopes, fears, and complexities of an immigrant journey. I will never forget the courageous Valora Luck.” —Abigail Hing Wen, New York Times bestselling author of Loveboat, Taipei

“Luck of the Titanic stayed with me long after I finished the last line. It’s beautifully written, funny, and incredibly heartbreaking. Every single character is expertly drawn and mesmerizing. A sublime read.” —Isabel Ibañez, author of Woven in Moonlight

About

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Downstairs Girl comes the richly imagined story of Valora and Jamie Luck, twin British-Chinese acrobats traveling aboard the Titanic on its ill-fated maiden voyage.

Valora Luck has two things: a ticket for the biggest and most luxurious ocean liner in the world, and a dream of leaving England behind and making a life for herself as a circus performer in New York. Much to her surprise though, she's turned away at the gangway; apparently, Chinese aren't allowed into America.

But Val has to get on that ship. Her twin brother Jamie, who has spent two long years at sea, is there, as is an influential circus owner, whom Val hopes to audition for. Thankfully, there's not much a trained acrobat like Val can't overcome when she puts her mind to it.

As a stowaway, Val should keep her head down and stay out of sight. But the clock is ticking and she has just seven days as the ship makes its way across the Atlantic to find Jamie, perform for the circus owner, and convince him to help get them both into America.

Then one night the unthinkable happens, and suddenly Val's dreams of a new life are crushed under the weight of the only thing that matters: survival.

Author

© Jerrick Mitra
Stacey Lee is the New York Times bestselling author of historical and contemporary young adult fiction, including The Downstairs Girl, a Reese’s Book Club YA Pick, Luck of the Titanic, Under a Painted Sky, and Outrun the Moon, the winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. A native of southern California and a fourth-generation Chinese American, she is a co-founder of the We Need Diverse Books movement and writes stories for all kids (even the ones who look like adults). You can visit Stacey at StaceyHLee.com or follow her on Twitter and Instagram @staceyleeauthor View titles by Stacey Lee

Excerpt

1

April 10, 1912

When my twin, Jamie, left, he vowed it wouldn’t be forever. Only a week before Halley’s Comet brushed the London skies, he kissed my cheek and set off. One comet in, one comet out. But two years away is more than enough time to clear his head, even in the coal-­thickened air at the bottom of a steamship. Since he hasn’t come home, it is time to chase down the comet’s tail.

I try not to fidget while I wait my turn on the first-­class gangway of White Star Line’s newest ocean liner. A roofed corridor—­to spare the nobs the inconvenience of sunshine—­leads directly from the “boat train” depot to this highest crossing. At least we are far from the rats on Southampton dock below, which is crawling with them.

Of course, some up here might consider me a rat.

The couple ahead of me eyes me warily, even though I am dressed in one of Mrs. Sloane’s smartest traveling suits—­shark grey to match her usual temper, with a swath of black bee-­swarm lace pinned from shoulder to shoulder. A lifetime of those dodgy looks teaches you to ignore them. Haven’t I already survived the journey from London? A half a day’s travel, packed into a smoky railcar, next to a man who stank of sardines. And here I am, so close to the finish line, I can nearly smell Jamie—­like trampled ryegrass and the milk biscuits he is so fond of eating.

An ocean breeze cools my cheeks. Several stories below in either direction, onlookers crowd the dock, staring up at the ship rising six stories before them. Its hull gleams, a wall of liquid black with a quartet of smokestacks so wide you could drive a train through them. Stately letters march across its side: “TITANIC.” On the third-­class gangway a hundred feet to my left, passengers sport a variety of costume: headscarves, patterned kaftans, fringed shawls of botany wool, tasseled caps, and plain dungarees and straw hats. I don’t see a single Chinese face among them. Has Jamie boarded already? With this crowd, I may have missed him.

Then again, he isn’t traveling alone, but with seven other Chinese men from his company. All are being transported to Cuba for a new route after coal strikes here berthed their steamship.

Something cold unspools in my belly. I received his last letter a month ago. Time enough for things to change. What if Jamie’s company decided to send them somewhere other than Cuba, maybe a new route in Asia or Africa?

The line shifts. Only a few more passengers ahead of me.

Jamie! I call in my mind, a game I often played growing up. He doesn’t always hear, but I like to think he does when it matters.

In China, a dragon-­phoenix pair of boy-and-girl twins is considered auspicious, and so Ba bought two suckling pigs to celebrate our birth, roasted side by side to show their common lot. Some may think that macabre, but to the Chinese, death is just a continuation of life on a higher plane with our ancestors.

Jamie, your sister is here. Look for me.

Won’t he be surprised to see me? Shocked may be more accurate—­Jamie has never handled surprise well—­but I will get him to see that it is time for him, forus, to move on to bigger and better things, just as our father hoped.

I think back to the telegram I sent him when Ba passed five months ago.

Ba hit his head on post and died. Please come home. Ever your Val.

Jamie wrote back:

Rec’d news and hope you are bearing up okay. Very sorry, but I have eight months left on my contract and cannot get away. Write me details. Your Jamie.

Jamie would have known that Ba had been drunk when he hit his head, and I knew he wouldn’t mourn like I had. When you live with someone whose mistress is the bottle, you say your goodbyes long before they depart.

Someone behind me clears her throat. A woman in a pinstriped “menswear” suit that fits her slender figure like stripes on a zebra watches me, an ironic smile wrapped around her cigarette. I put her in her early twenties. Somehow dressing in men’s clothing seems to heighten her femininity, with her creamy skin and dark hair that swings to her delicate chin. She lifts that chin toward the entrance, where a severe-­looking officer stands like a box nail,a puzzled look on his face.

I bound forward on the balls of my feet, muscled from years of tightrope practice. Ba started training Jamie and me in the acrobatic arts as soon as we could walk. Sometimes, our acts were the only thing putting food on the table.

The severe officer watches me pull my ticket from my velvet handbag.

Mrs. Sloane, my employer, secretly purchased tickets for the two of us with her dragon’s hoard of money. She didn’t tell her son or his wife about the trip, or that she might stay in America indefinitely to get away from their money-­grubbing fists and greedy stares. After her unexpected demise, I couldn’t just let the tickets go to waste.

“Afternoon, sir. I am Valora Luck.”

The officer glances at the name written on my ticket, then back at me, his steep cheekbones sharp enough for a bird to land on. His navy visor with its distinctive company logo—­a gold wreath circling a red flag with a white star—­levers as he inspects me. “Destination?”

“New York, same as the rest.” Is that a trick question?

“New York, huh. Documentation?”

“You’re holding it right there, sir,” I say brightly, feeling the gangway shift uncomfortably.

He exchanges a guarded look with the crewman holding the passenger log. “Luck?”

“Yes.” In Cantonese, our surname sounds more like “Luke,” but the British like to pronounce it “luck.” Ba had decided to embrace good fortune and spell it that way, too. He’d intended the lofty-­sounding name “Valor” for Jamie, and “Virtue” for me—­after a sea shanty about a pair of boots—­but my British mum put the brakes on that. Instead, she named my brother James, and I got Valora. It’s a toss-­up as to which of us is more relieved.

“You’re Chinese, right?”

“Half of me.” Mum married Ba against the wishes of her father, a vicar in the local parish.

“Then at least half of you needs documentation. Ain’t you heard of the Chinese Exclusion Act? You can’t go to America without papers. That’s just how it is.”

“Wh-­what?” A pang of fear slices through me. The ChineseExclusion Act. What madness is this? They don’t like us here in England, but clearly, theyreally don’t like us in America. “But my brother’s on this ship, too, with the members of the Atlantic Steam Company. They’re all Chinese. Did they get on?”

“I don’t keep the third-­class register. You’ll need to get off my gangway.”

“B-­but my lady will be expecting me.”

“Where is she?”

I was prepared for this question. “Mrs. Sloane wanted me to board first to make sure her room was ready.” Of course, she had already pushed off on a different ship, one that wouldn’t be making a return journey, causing me great inconvenience. “We had her trunk forwarded here a week ago. I must lay out her things.” Mum’s Bible is in that trunk, within its pages my only picture of her and Ba. At last, my family will be reunited, even if it is just with a photo of our parents.

“Well, you’re not getting on this ship without the proper documentation.” He waves the ticket. “I’ll keep this for her for when she boards. Next!”

Waiting passengers begin to grumble behind me, but I ignore them. “No, please! I must board! I must—­”

“Robert, escort this girl off.”

The crewman beside the severe officer grabs my arm.

I shake him off, trying to muster a bit of respect. “I will see myself off.”

The woman in the menswear suit behind me steps aside to allow others to go before her, her amber eyes curiously assessing me. “I saw a group of Chinese men enter the ship early this morning,” she says in the no-­nonsense tone Americans use. “Perhaps you can check if your brother was one of them.”

“Thank you,” I say, grateful for the unexpected charity.

A family pushes past me, and I lose the woman in a flurry of people, parcels, and hats. I find myself being squeezed back into the train depot, like a piece of indigestible meat. Mrs. Sloane would’ve never stood for this outrage. Probably a rich lady like her would have persuaded them to let me on. But there is no one to speak for me now. I descend the staircase, then exit the depot onto the quay. The glare from the overcast sky cuts my eyes.

I figured the hardest part of this endeavor would be getting on without Mrs. Sloane. Never could I have foreseen this complication. What now? I need to be on that ship, or it could be months, maybe years, before I see Jamie again.

Something skirts over my boot and I recoil. A rat. They are certainly bold here, called by the peanut peddlers and meat pie hawkers. I shrink away from a pile of crates, where the rodents are making short work of a melon rind. The river slaps a rhythm against the Titanic’s hull, and my heart beats double time with the slosh.

Taking the American’s advice, I make tracks for the third-­class entrance farther down the quay toward the bow. Unlike in the first class, passengers crowd the gangway, tightening the queue as I near. I straighten my jacket. “I’m sorry, I just need to check if my brother made it through. Please let me pass.”

A man with a dark mustache chastises me in a foreign tongue, then jerks his head toward the end of the line. Heads nod, cutting me suspicious glares, and people move to block me. Seems wearing first-­class clothes will not gain me any advantage here.

Perhaps things would be different if I looked less like Ba and more like Mum. I exhale my frustration, a wind heated by a lifetime of being turned away for no good cause. Then I continue farther along the quay to the end of the line, passing dockworkers manhandling ropes and a navy uniform shining a torch into people’s eyeballs. They don’t check the first class for disease.

Beyond the nose of the ship, a couple of tugboats line up, ready to tow the Titanic from her mooring. Voices rise as people look up to a massive crane on the bow lowering a hoisting platform onto the quay ten paces away. A horn honks, and the queue shifts, making way for a sleek cinnamon-­red Renault motorcar. It stops right before the hoisting platform.

It could take an hour to reach the gangway from here. But even if Jamie has boarded, they still won’t let me on that ship without papers. Then theTitanic will leave, and he will be lost to me, possibly forever. His letters to me will be un­deliverable at the Sloanes’, and I will have no way of knowing which new route he was assigned. Jamie is the only real family I have left. I won’t let him idle his time on a steamship when he is destined for better things. Great things.

A woman with large nostrils glances at me, then pulls her son closer, spilling some of the peanuts from his paper cone. A rat slithers out from behind a crate and quietly feasts. “Stay away from that one. I’ve heard they eat dogs.”

Barely glancing at me, the boy returns his attention to the Renault.

A crewman gestures at the dockworkers positioned on either side of the car. “Easy now. Load her on.”

I am getting on that ship, by hook or by crook. Jamie is there, and I won’t let him leave without me. As for the Chinese Exclusion Act, put out the fire on your trousers before worrying about the one down the street. But how will I board?

The hoisting platform sways on its hook, the stage just big enough to hold the motorcar. A crewman reaches up and guides it the last few feet to the quay.

By hook.

I flex my back, my muscles twitching. There are more ways onto the Titanic than the gangways.

Praise

An Indie Bestseller
A YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Selection

“Lee gives life to the young women of the Chinese diaspora, writing them back into the story . . . So rich and focused are [Val's] schemes that as a reader, it's very easy to get caught up in them, and forget that before long, the only thing that will matter is the icy depths of the Atlantic.” —NPR

“Lovingly rendered, Val’s bittersweet story is one of hope, courage and the fight to survive.” —Ms. Magazine

“Historical romance fans will love Luck of the Titanic.” —Bustle

* “A gem from start to bittersweet finish.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* “A finely crafted historical exploration of identity, class, and family that resonates through the present.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review 

* “With a compassionate, strong heroine and a diverse cast, this is an exciting, important retelling of the Titanic tragedy.” —School Library Journal, starred review

* “[Lee's] writing draws the reader into this “night to remember” . . . Devastating.” —School Library Connection, starred review

* “Lee’s conversational style adds a freshness to the historical frame and achieves a thrilling balance between hope and anguish through budding romances and humor amid the looming tragedy.” —Booklist, starred review

“Lee creates vivid backstories for her characters and . . . memorable scenes of warmth, joy, romance, and daring . . . Heart-wrenching—and unexpected.” —The Horn Book

“Thrilling . . . Lee seamlessly weaves fact and fiction in Luck of the Titanic, inventing a story that gorgeously captures an era and a tragedy. ” —Shelf Awareness

“[A] lushly imagined, compelling novel . . . A compelling romance adds to the poignancy of the finale.” —Buffalo News

Mesmerizing . . . An admirable and engaging addition to the annals of fictional Titanic lore.” —BookPage

“Gives readers a picture of the vast differences in the experiences of the classes aboard the ship . . . Run-ins with various historical figures will receive appreciative nods from kids in the know . . . Devastating.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

“A breathtaking journey of survival.” —Brightly

“This is the kind of book I absolutely love. Heroism and heartbreaking tragedy, seen through the eyes of those who have been left off the pages of our history books.” —Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet  

“A thrilling historical page-turner. A must-read!” —Melissa de la Cruz, New York Times bestselling author of Alex & Eliza

“Stacey Lee has done it again—taken a fascinating slice of history and transformed it into a story lush with heart, heartache, and hope. This is the Titanic story you need.” —Marie Lu, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Skyhunter

“Stacey Lee’s superpower is her ability to turn history’s forgotten into today’s unforgettable; and you’ll never forget the terror and joy of travelling with Valora Luck, whose unsinkable spirit gleams like a rescue flare through the icy murk of the past.” —Elizabeth Wein, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Code Name Verity

“Stacey Lee has crafted one of my favorite kinds of historical reads; it’s a story that’s as thrilling as it is atmospheric and as joyful as it is heartbreaking. A masterful, gripping tale for the ages.” —Kerri Maniscalco, #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Stalking Jack the Ripper series

“This book will make you fall in love and then fall to pieces.” —Stephanie Garber, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Caraval series

“Hope, heroism, and heartache collide in an unforgettable story, suffused with love.” —Julie Berry, New York Times bestselling author of Lovely War

“With a plot as tense as a walk on a tightrope and a wily heroine you’ll cheer on till the very end, Luck of the Titanic is historical fiction at its most thrilling.” —Laura Ruby, two-time National Book Award finalist and author of Bone Gap

“Stacey Lee has breathed new life and love into this iconic voyage, with all the hopes, fears, and complexities of an immigrant journey. I will never forget the courageous Valora Luck.” —Abigail Hing Wen, New York Times bestselling author of Loveboat, Taipei

“Luck of the Titanic stayed with me long after I finished the last line. It’s beautifully written, funny, and incredibly heartbreaking. Every single character is expertly drawn and mesmerizing. A sublime read.” —Isabel Ibañez, author of Woven in Moonlight

Books for LGBTQIA+ Pride Month

In June we celebrate Pride Month, which honors the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan and highlights the accomplishments of those in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual + (LGBTQIA+) community, while recognizing the ongoing struggles faced by many across the world who wish to live as their most authentic selves. Here is

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PRH Education High School Collections

All reading communities should contain protected time for the sake of reading. Independent reading practices emphasize the process of making meaning through reading, not an end product. The school culture (teachers, administration, etc.) should affirm this daily practice time as inherently important instructional time for all readers. (NCTE, 2019)   The Penguin Random House High

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PRH Education Translanguaging Collections

Translanguaging is a communicative practice of bilinguals and multilinguals, that is, it is a practice whereby bilinguals and multilinguals use their entire linguistic repertoire to communicate and make meaning (García, 2009; García, Ibarra Johnson, & Seltzer, 2017)   It is through that lens that we have partnered with teacher educators and bilingual education experts, Drs.

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PRH Education Classroom Libraries

“Books are a students’ passport to entering and actively participating in a global society with the empathy, compassion, and knowledge it takes to become the problem solvers the world needs.” –Laura Robb   Research shows that reading and literacy directly impacts students’ academic success and personal growth. To help promote the importance of daily independent

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