Making Waves

Barbara Williams, Author
Barbara Williams, Author Dial Books for Young Readers $17.99 (215p) ISBN 978-0-8037-2515-7
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Fans of Williams's historical novel Titanic Crossing may be disappointed in this issue-oriented sequel, focused on 12-year-old Emily Brewer's rumblings against child labor and factory conditions. After surviving the wreck of the Titanic, Emily moves to Baltimore with her former missionary mother (and younger brother and sister) to help a rich cousin set up a settlement house. The author connects the two novels through letters between Emily and Titanic Crossing hero Albert Trask, a friend and love interest and the only person she can communicate with ""who understands about the Titanic."" Though these letters effectively establish their flirtation as well as the survivors' guilt and their shared impulse to make a difference, they often veer toward soapbox speeches. Meeting 13-year-old Maggie Flanagan, a struggling Irish immigrant, catalyzes Emily's interest in sweatshops and the horrid conditions of child labor. In a letter to Albert, Emily explains her newfound purpose: ""I hope you won't think I'm crazy, but I knew I had to carry on Mother Jones' crusade to improve the lives of child laborers."" Though class and labor issues are handled well and plot twists keep the pace moving, most characters remain only partially developed. Ages 9-13. (Sept.)
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