The Girl Who Came Home: Bittersweet Story of Survival & History

20566043.jpgThe Girl Who Came Home was a very good story about two women: Grace and her great-grandmother, Maggie, who is a survivor of the Titanic tragedy. At it’s core it’s a story about making the most of life, and not letting opportunities pass you by, as well being a story of family, love, and loss. But it’s not a perfect story and there a couple of elements that I believe would have made the book more polished.

There are a lot of parallels between Grace and Maggie, which while I enjoyed, I felt followed too many tropes. Having read many books that take place during two different time periods, usually in the form of an elder family member reminiscing about an event from their past, I’ve come to see that the vast majority of them always have the same exact parallels. While this works for the bigger picture in the end, I think that certain parallel-tropes should be put to rest. One of those is romance. The love of the past is usually resurrected in the newer generations’ relationships. There’s a romanticism to it, yet it also makes the narrative disappointingly predictable. There were certain points in the novel where I was starting to get a little bored; ready for a bit unpredictability that didn’t truly occur until the finale.

Another aspect of The Girl Who Came Home that I didn’t care for were the perspectives. The story jumps from 1912 and 1982, but it hop-scotches from first-person viewpoints of Maggie, a third class steward named Henry, an Irish young man, and a few others (mostly Maggie’s family and friends). I was fascinated with the Irish man’s side of the story as well as Maggie’s aunt, yet there was absolutely no reason for there to be a section dedicated to the perspective of a very wealthy lady named Vivienne. She had an excruciatingly snooty persona, which was illustrated quite well from the descriptions of her via other cast members. Vivienne’s viewpoint never makes any reasonable addition to the plot. It felt rather wasteful having to read it. There are a few others that make appearances only to be random and unnecessary. If the story focused strictly on the people that made contributions towards plot progression, I would have been less bored and focused on finishing it sooner.

Finally, I’m a reader who is absolutely fascinated with Titanic and everything following it. I wholeheartedly wish that there was more of a focus on the people as they struggle for survival while the ship was sinking. That entire section was beautifully engrossing, but dishearteningly short-lived. There was a lack of balance between the build up to the collision and then everything that occurs after the fact.

Regardless of these few elements that I had trouble with, overall the story is written very eloquently, engaging emotions and senses in a way that was surprising yet pleasant; bittersweet even. Being able to read about all of the excitement that folks had, especially the middle to lower class crowd, in regards to “starting a new life” and “building a future for their families” only to have it all horrifyingly torn apart is surreal. This happened to approximately 2,200 people! Two thousand lives were unimaginably altered that night, with less than 700 making it out alive. The shock, panic, grief, and sorrow is depicted with a graceful prose and delicate attention.

I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in stories relating to Titanic, people who enjoy historical literature that alternates with modern day, or if you just want a good story about love and family. My final rating is 3 1/2 icebergs outta 5.

6 thoughts on “The Girl Who Came Home: Bittersweet Story of Survival & History

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  3. Great review! I personally like your rating system of icebergs 🙂 I like books that jump time periods but your description of not only jumping time but character viewpoints.. phew, I am not sure how I would receive the story. I do not know much about the stories of the families who were impacted by the Titanic and your review has definitely sparked some interest for me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    • Thank for your kind words! 🙂 I think one of the things that make Titanic so fascinating to me are the people who were so greatly impacted by it. It’s definitely worth checking out.

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