Published on August 27th, 2014 | by Andrea Liu0
“A love story that rivals Titanic”
Ellie Ryan, a stewardess aboard the Empress of Ireland, can’t help but be drawn to Jim, the quietly brooding fire-stoker who she finds writing in a journal by the ship’s rail nearly every night. Jim writes often and with an intensity that Ellie can’t fathom and it leaves her wondering, what secrets does Jim have? Well, Ellie has a quite a few of her own, especially the one about why she’s on the Empress in the first place.
But Ellie and Jim never get a chance to tell each other their secrets when the Empress is suddenly hit by another ship. As the Empress slowly descends into the frigid waters of the St. Lawrence, Ellie becomes one of the few that survive. Unfortunately not all are as lucky and while Ellie hopes against all hope that Jim survived that awful night, she finds it hard to believe it herself.
When journalist Wyatt Steele shows up at her door with Jim’s journal in hand, Ellie realizes that this is her chance to finally read it and learn more about Jim. But there’s a catch, Steele is willing to give Ellie the journal in return for her story. As Ellie relives her past, she receives pieces of Jim’s memories one page at a time.
Why you’ll love it:
Too often we find stories that end as the characters are rescued and few stories take us beyond that. Sometimes surviving after a tragedy is when the real story begins and in Unspeakable, we learn about Ellie’s traumatic past, the guilt she has to live with on a daily basis, and the hope she has for the future. Alternating between the past and the present, we relive Ellie’s memories and how she copes with them. Ellie has a quiet resilience about her and as her story is revealed, you will grieve, hope, and forgive alongside her.
Fans of Titanic and history buffs will definitely enjoy this book but so will anyone who’s looking for a good story with a likeable heroine and a realistic romance. The writing is superb and will have you feeling all types of emotions. The mystery and tension that builds as Ellie reveals parts of her story alongside Jim’s will keep your attention riveted to the page. Based on one of Canada’s worst maritime tragedies, this story is one which will stay with you long after the book is finished.
Choice Quote: “Every character learns his true strengths by facing those things that might kill him and if he doesn’t die at the hands of those dragons, he emerges stronger.”
Caroline Pignat is the award-winning author of four critically acclaimed YA novels, including:
Egghead, a Red Maple Honour book
Greener Grass, the 2009 Governor General’s Award winner