Publication date: 2013
Publishing House: The O'Brien Press
Page Count: 197
Age Group: 10+
When thirteen-year-old Finbar Kelly runs away from home to follow his sea-captain father aboard the Lusitania, he paves the way for all kinds of adventures. He meets a spy, nearly dies (twice) and gets to see New York city - and that's only his outbound journey! But neither Finbar, his father, nor any of the other souls aboard the ill-fated later are prepared for what befalls the Lusitania on its return trip to Cobh.
The sinking of the Lusitania in May 1915 occurred just three years after the sinking of the Titanic and as such, is indelibly linked in the eyes of the public. Both led to a tragic loss of human life; close to 1,200 people aboard the Lusitania died. But the Lusitania did not fall foul of an iceberg, it was torpedoed by a German submarine off the Irish coast of Kinsale. And while many of the facts surrounding the event are still unknown today, the rumours of spies, gold and arms on board were all true.
Kiely's novel is steeped in the ship's history, which is effectively brought alive through the eager eyes of our young protagonist and first-person narrator, Finbar. The author has a talent for capturing the telling details that ground the reader in this past time without making them feel like they're enduring a history lesson. From the soap-on-a -rope at Bowery's Bath House in New York to the Marconi telegraph room aboard the Lusitania, we travel with Finbar on his adventures.
Fans of Nicola Pierce's The Spirit of the Titanic (reviewed here) will enjoy this action-packed book. A deftly plotted novel which skillfully captures the significance of the momentuous tragedy, SOS Lusitania will appeal to history fans young and old.