Resource Links Review - Peril at Pier Nine

Reviewed by: Anne Hatcher

Peril at Pier Nine is the second instalment by Penny Draper and the third novel in the Disaster Stirkes Series. This novel is based on the real life disaster in 1949 aboard the S. S. Noronic, a Great Lakes cruise ship. This tragedy is re-told through the eyes of 14-year-old Jack Gordon and his friends on Ward Island. This riveting story opens in the summer of 1949, with Cap'n (Captain Clapp) regaling John and his friends with stories of sea tragedies and daring rescues by local people.

Cap'n's tales inspire Jack to see employment on the Noronic and jump start his sea faring journey. Jack dreams this quest will end with the captaincy of his own large ship.

Jack's love of the sea follows its ancient laws. When a new family moves to Ward Island, Jack befriends Lucy Mae and her brother Charles. Jack refuses to go anywhere near a boat with Lucy because women bring bad luck.

The setting of the novel the quickly shifts and we meet Henry whose family has scheduled a last minute trip on the Noronic. When this grand boat arrives at Ward Island, Jack and his friends race to admire its splendour and find a way to gain entry aboard. Jack spots Henry and convinces him to let him and his friends on board.

Later that evening Jack, still besotted by his visit aboard the Noronic, decides to take one last look before she departs. Much to his horror, Jack sees smoke billowing from the boat. Reminiscent of the heroes in Cap'n's stories, Jack rushes to a motorboat and without calling for more help steers off to help the passengers to safety. The passengers cannot disembark via the stairs as this route is engulfed in flames. Their only recourse is to jump in the water amid burning debris. Jack manages, with the help of others from Ward Island, to save Henry, his mom and 49 other passengers. Unfortunately, 118 people perish including Henry's Dad.

Readers will appreciate the fast paced action of the story as it details the life of the characters for one week. Teenagers will also identify with the adventurous lifestyle of Jack and his friends and the trouble their impulsive behavious often lands them in. In addition, within every person is the desire to be a hero, and this story leads the very young to believe that their actions in a time of need can help save the lives of others. This book helps bring an historical event to life through the eyes of very realistic characters.

Thematic Links: Disasters - Great Lakes; Canada - History

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