This is a young adult fictionalized true story of the City of Benares, a cruise ship, transporting children and some families to Canada during the Second World War. The British government was trying to protect children from the German bombings. Unfortunately, the ship was torpedoed, sending a few survivors into small lifeboats and the rest of the passengers to the bottom of the ocean. This book traces the story of several children and their experiences with their family before departure, on board the ship, and after the sinking of the ship.
Due to the factual, third person viewpoint, I initially thought this book would be dry and the characters would remain distant. However, while remaining true to the language and culture of the time, Lewis gently draws us in and shows us how these were real, lovable children. The stories told of each lifeboat are fascinating, suspenseful, and moving.
Although the story is deeply tragic, the determination, heroism, courage, and compassion of passengers and staff are inspiring. This book is an example of how far-reaching and horrifying the effects of war are on even the most innocent victims.