Summary: Tired of being known as a landlubber and driven by concern for her father, Lucy follows her instincts and stows away on the cargo ship he works on during his last cargo run of the season, leaving a note of explanation behind for her mother. Her instincts prove terribly right when a hurricane arises just as Lucy’s dad has a heart attack. With her quick thinking and help from Rachel, the ship’s cook, as well as Rip, a secret stowaway dog, Lucy faces the sinking of the ship, rescues her father, and survives the most legendary storm of 1913. After it’s all over, Lucy’s short haircut and pants get her mistaken for a boy, and her mother is heartbroken when she told that both Lucy and her father have been lost.
Number of Pages: 111
Age Range: 12-14
Review: Lucy’s father is a sailor, making money by doing cargo runs from Cleveland to Kincardine. The last run of the season comes in November, a time generally acknowledged by sailors to be the most dangerous as winter weather sets in. This time, Lucy has a gut feeling from watching her parents that her father should not be making the trip, but when he decides to because of the cash bonus he has been promised, Lucy stows away on the ship to look after him.
Turns out her father is having heart problems, and when the Great Storm of 1913 hits, Lucy’s father has a heart attack and collapses. Without Lucy’s assistance, her father would have gone down with the ship, but instead they are rescued along with Rachel, the ship’s cook.
Lucy is a feisty character determined not to let the conventions of others bring her down. She likes to run, and dislikes anything that hinders her from running as fast as she can, including long hair and wearing dresses. Her short hair and father’s pants allow her to sneak onto the ship unnoticed, followed by a stray dog she names Rip, and together they become heroes. All of this is done despite the fact Lucy has previously been afraid to sail at all.
Aggerholm’s story features many undercurrents: Lucy’s dad’s health issues, the pressure on sailors to make the last cargo run of the season under great personal risk, ship captain’s deliberate ignoring of adverse weather warnings and gut feelings of sailors who should be making the trip. At times I wanted to yell at the man who had to have his champagne because it felt so elitist that a cargo ship would be chartered to bring it to him.
My favourite characters were Lucy and Rip, because their quick thinking in the storm saved lives. Instead of being overwhelmed and needing to be cared for, they take charge and rescue others. This theme continues after the storm ends as Rachel is left alone and Lucy and her family take her in. Lucy is a thoughtful character, and I found myself wishing Aggerholm’s book was longer because I wanted to know more about her and whether her father would recover.
Stowaway in the White Hurricane lies at the edge of teen, but with its historical content and inspiring role models, I think it works for both pre-teen and early teen readers.
“Tom had no way of knowing that as he slept, a deadly drama was playing itself out on Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. A collision of storm systems was about to raise havoc on the Great Lakes, producing hail, snow, sleet and hurricane-force winds.
Boats would be attacked by winds whipping up to 90 miles an hour. Fast and furious waves would tower more than 35 feet high. One minute, winds would blow from one direction while the lake would come crashing from another direction. Thick ice on pilothouse windows and the long decks would drag the huge lake boats under as though they were pieces of driftwood.
It would be a violent storm unlike anything sailors had ever seen on the Great Lakes. When it was over, 250 men and women would be dead, 12 ships lost and at least 25 more boats seriously damaged.
Later, survivors would call it ‘White Hurricane.’ Newspaper headlines would scream about ‘The Great Storm of 1913.’
And it was headed Tom’s way.” – from Stowaway in the White Hurricane by Barbara Aggerholm, pages 40-41