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Distant Waves: A Novel of the Titanic Hardcover – April 15, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Weyn's historical novel climaxes with the sinking of the Titanic, but it begins in 1898 when narrator Jane, the second of five sisters, is four years old and observing her mother, a medium, contact the spirit world for the first time. That same life-changing day, on their way to a spiritualist community outside Buffalo, N.Y., the newly-fatherless family is caught in an artificial earthquake caused by real-life scientist Nikola Tesla. The beginning of the novel centers on the girls' mother's spiritual work, with Jane unsure of her mother's clairvoyance. Science has an equally important role, as Jane becomes obsessed with Tesla, following his career in the paper and then seeking him out. The story's pace is slow, but it picks up as the years pass, and Jane falls in love with Tesla's assistant, Thad. After a trip to England, the sisters find themselves on the Titanic-the author uses a touch of the fantastic to provide a (mostly) happy conclusion. The interplay of science, spirituality, history and romance will satisfy. Ages 12-up.
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From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up—Jane begins her tale with her childhood, as her recently widowed mother struggles to care for her family. While in New York City, they are assisted during an earthquake by the scientist Nikola Tesla, who explains that he caused the event with his latest invention, a device based on the concept that "everything vibrates." Inspired by this idea, and the possibility that it applies to the spirit world, Jane's mother decides to move her daughters to a community of mediums in upstate New York and support them by pursuing her "gift." When Jane is 16, she travels to New York City with her older sister to interview Tesla for a journalism contest and meets his assistant Thad, adding a romantic interest. Several months later, Jane's family travels to England for an international convention of spiritualists. Afterward, two of her sisters board the Titanic, and when their mother hears a prediction that the ship will sink, Jane tries to retrieve them, but is stuck onboard. She makes the ill-fated journey along with Thad and Tesla (who has brought several inventions that could either save the ship or destroy it). Told in gripping first-person narrative, this novel features interesting characters and creates a strong sense of time and place, while exploring the mysteries of the spirit world. An author's note separates fiction from fact and shares further details about real people and events.—Samantha Larsen Hastings, West Jordan Public Library, UT END