Review of “The Girl Who Came Home” by Hazel Gaynor

Gaynor, Hazel. The Girl Who Came Home. New York: William Morrow, 2014. ISBN-13: 978-0-06-231686-8. $14.99 USD.

5 stars

Despite this only being the second book I’ve read my Hazel Gaynor (and the first I’ve read that she wrote independently), I already have the sense that she has a gift for writing books that are well-paced and virtually unputdownable. She also has great sense for historical detail and authenticity, incorporating the formats of telegrams and letters (both real and fictional), as well as the amount of research she has done on the subject matter and the experiences of the survivors, which makes this a compelling read that brings a more intimate perspective to the tragedy of the Titanic.

And she gets to the real impact of the disaster, in a way some other forms of media covering it did not. We see Maggie wracked with guilt and unable to discuss her experiences with anyone for decades, as well as the fact that a beloved family member might not be coming home, having been lost in the sinking. As Maggie says at one point, “To me, Titanic was about real people, real lives, real hopes for the future. That’s what I saw disappearing into the ocean.” (206)

However, Gaynor also illustrates that happiness can come in the aftermath of loss, with both Maggie finding love and happiness with someone she can confide in, and decades later, after grappling with her own loss, her great-granddaughter, Grace, finding the courage to pursue her dreams again and reconnect with someone she loves.

 

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