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Monday, June 8, 2020

Book Review: Torpedoed: The True Story of the World War II Sinking of "The Children's Ship" by Deborah Heiligman (audiobook)

My WWII moratorium is still more or less on, but occasionally a special book will worm its way past the gates. I heard Ms. Heiligman speak at a publishing event a few months ago, and I'd read her amazing book about the van Gogh brothers, Vincent and Theo. So when I saw I could get this book on audio at my library, I jumped on it.

One nice thing about learning history from children's books, is they don't feel the need to beef up the story. Especially with books that tell about a single incident, one seemingly minor int he grand scope of a war. If this were an adult book, it would have a lot of padding of extra information, not to mention just loads of background and context, and yet you don't need any of that. We get just the right amount here.

During the London Blitz, children were being sent away. Many had already been evacuated, both to foreign ports that seemed safe like Canada and Australia, and to the countryside. The children aboard the SS City of Benares were headed for Canada. The young adult volunteers accompanying them, mostly women, were doing their part for the war effort at home. All were brave and doing what needs must. And so when the ship was torpedoed by a German submarine, those who survived the initial explosion, did what they had to do. Some life rafts were unusable, some capsized upon launch, others were nearly impossible to board, and not everyone was saved. But an awful lot of people were saved, and their survival was harrowing and inspiring--especially the one life raft that was missed when the rescue ship finally arrived... and miscounted.

I listened to this audiobook all in one day. Once I started, I just couldn't stop. It was the epitome of riveting--a war story, a survival story, with kids--what more can you ask for? Wonderful history, wonderfully told.

I borrowed this eaudiobook from my local library via Libby/Overdrive. 

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