Making Waves by Barbara Williams; Dial Books
for Young Readers: New York, 2000; $17.99
In making waves, author Barbara Williams returns to her two main characters who survived the sinking of the Titanic in her last book, Titanic Crossing. These two young people, Albert Trask and Emily Brewer, continue the friendship they forged on that fateful voyage in 1912.
Like many young people, Emily and Albert share a bond, which was formed by a shared experience. All of us form friendships by positive and negative experiences we share with others: a particularly successful science fair project or maybe a crushing defeat on the soccer field. Certainly Emily and Albert witnessed the horror of the loss of 11,517 souls and must now manage to go on with their lives.
The book begins less than a week after the disaster at sea, when Emily writes to Albert, looking for someone to talk to who “understands about the Titanic.” Emily’s new life is clouded with fears and nightmares about the disaster, and she can’t put it in the past the way Mama suggests. This determined twelve-year-old is seeking an empathetic ear, the way many adolescent girls commiserate with their friends about being a wallflower at a school dance.
Through their correspondence, Emily and Albert find that they share the feeling of wonder about why they survived and so many others didn’t. Both of them attempt to get on with their lives, making friends, learning lessons, and fitting into family life. However, just like many real-life people who survive a disaster, they both find themselves fighting to right wrongs.
Barbara Williams has created believable characters. Emily’s strong will, which often gets her into trouble, is her strongest asset. In a time when women were still in the background, she breaks the mold by joining her friend Maggie in a fight for change. Albert provides a sensitive and understanding ear to Emily, as he tries to insure that his survival makes a difference.
Most readers and moviegoers already know the story of the Titanic. Ms. Williams carries the story to the next level by reminding us that the Titanic disaster did not end the lives of all on board. Many who survived achieved great things that were shaped by their experiences on April 15, 1912.