June 20, 2013

By Terri Schlichenmeyer

Special to the NNPA from The Washington Informer


You need a vacation.

Just a little getaway, that’s all. A few days outside, sand and sun, drinks with umbrellas served by someone in a uniform. Luxurious accommodations, rich food – yeah, you could see that kind of life becoming more than just a vacation.

But would you move, permanently? In the new book “Unsinkable” by Nicole Bradshaw, the LaRoche family decided to return to Canada and leave France behind forever. But they would actually leave behind much, much more.

The night started so well, and ended so badly.

Fifteen-year-old Corrine LaRoche snuck out of the house to see her boyfriend, but then she caught him cheating. When she returned home in tears, she found the police in her house – and one of them had his foot on her father’s neck.

That kind of harassment didn’t happen often, but it happened enough. Corrine’s father was a Negro man; her mother was white. Years ago, they’d left Canada to move to Cherbourg, France, hoping to make a good life for their family overseas. Now it was time to go back home.

With plans for his wife to join them later, Corrine’s father booked second-class tickets for himself and his daughters on the Titanic.

Though her sister was less than awed, Corrine was amazed by the size of the great ship. She could hardly believe that something so big could float on water. The Titanic was nearly as big as Cherbourg itself! There was music on-deck, tables with umbrellas, and lots and lots of people.

But the one person who caught Corrine’s eye was a handsomely-uniformed young white seaman who seemed quite attracted to her. His name was Christopher and his uncle was the captain of the Titanic. So when he invited Corrine to have dinner with him in the first-class dining room, she naturally accepted – although no one else was happy about their budding romance.

Christopher’s mother had hoped he would marry a girl from his social class, and not a common Negro girl. Corrine’s father distrusted white people, too. But for Corrine and Christopher, nothing would stop their growing love.

Nothing, of course, except an iceberg…

I was so excited about this book. It had such promise: a novel loosely based on a true story of the only black family on the Titanic.

I couldn’t wait to read it. Unfortunately, I should’ve …

When I say that author Nicole Bradshaw “loosely” based “Unsinkable” on truth, I mean very, very loosely. The setting of the book is 100 years old but its language is modern, which ruined the story for me right there. There are some obvious historical details that are wrong here, and we’re expected to accept several big stretches of imagination on top of that. Yes, this is fiction, but it could’ve been much better fiction had it not been modernized, altered, or contrived.

To say that this book was a disappointment to me is an understatement of Titanic proportions and for that, I can’t recommend it. Overall, my opinion of “Unsinkable” is that it just tanks.

Category: Arts & Culture