Wish Me Luck

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Jamie Monaghan wishes the war would hurry up and arrive in Liverpool. Despite the nightly air raids, the food rationing, and the gas masks he and his friends have to carry with them at all times, World War II has had little effect on life in Jamie's neighborhood. Jamie longs for a taste of the drama and excitement he hears about every night on the radio.

Soon the war hits a little too close to home. Fearing for Jamie's safety, his parents arrange for him to travel to Canada ...

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Jamie Monaghan wishes the war would hurry up and arrive in Liverpool. Despite the nightly air raids, the food rationing, and the gas masks he and his friends have to carry with them at all times, World War II has had little effect on life in Jamie's neighborhood. Jamie longs for a taste of the drama and excitement he hears about every night on the radio.

Soon the war hits a little too close to home. Fearing for Jamie's safety, his parents arrange for him to travel to Canada aboard the City of Benares, a ship carrying 100 young British evacuees. But in wartime, danger lurks in the most unexpected places. Instead of carrying Jamie away from the front lines, the ship brings him closer to battle than he or his parents ever would have dreamed possible. Before his voyage is complete, Jamie's courage and heroism will be put to the test, and his life will be changed forever.

While on an ocean voyage to Canada to escape the air raids in his Liverpool home, twelve-year-old Jaimie Monaghan faces another kind of life-threatening situation.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Heneghan (Torn Away) pulls off a rare achievement: he creates historical fiction that does not depend on historical incidentseven so dramatic an incident as the WW II torpedoing of an ocean linerfor its tension, momentum or purpose. The narrator, 12-year-old Jamie Monaghan, grabs the reader's attention immediately with his colorful Liverpool slang and his pitch-perfect reporting of the truculent reception given to the sinister-looking new kid at school, Tom Bleeker, who happens to be Jamie's next-door neighbor. Then bombs start falling on Liverpool, and, over Jamie's protests, his parents wangle a spot for him on the City of Benares, a luxury liner being used to bring British children to the safety of Canada. Unlike many novels about the Titanic and other famous disasters, this vigorous story is not overhung with ominous foreshadowing: when Jamie boards the ship, his only real worry is about sharing his cabin with Bleeker. And when Bleeker thinks he sees U-boats and mutters about setting sail on Friday the 13th, his fears seem unreasonable. After the ship is hit, Heneghan shifts into high gear, describing the action and the terror with nail-biting details. Because the characters seem so real, the reader shares their shock and horror and breathes in relief at their rescue. Eye-opening and utterly gripping. Ages 12-up. (May)
Children's Literature - Alexandria LaFaye
As this novel opens, Jamie is disappointed with World War II. There hasn't been any "real" action in Liverpool. However, he gets what he wishes for when the air raids begin and parts of his neighborhood are all but erased by bombs. To keep him safe, Jamie's parents send him on a ship to Canada. Unfortunately, the war follows him out to sea. A German U-boat attacks the cruise ship and sinks it. All of the passengers must fight for their lives in the chilly Atlantic. Jamie survives with a new respect for war and the value of his own life. Relying on his own memories of the war in England and the details of an actual attack on an evacuee ship, Heneghan tells an absorbing and often horrific tale of war.
Children's Literature - Judy Silverman
This book is based on a true story. It combines adventure and calm in the middle of war. The story is of English boys at school and at home, dealing with a war just one year old, a war that hasn't touched Liverpool yet. But as the bombing gets worse, Jamie Monaghan's parents decide to send Jamie to Canada, and safety. But the ship he's on is the City of Benares, and although it's part of a convoy, and escorted by a battleship, it is anything but safe. Torpedoed by a German submarine, it sinks and loses most of its passengers. Terribly sad, it also illustrates the bravery of ordinary Englishmen, women, and children. It's not dismal at all; in fact there are truly funny situations. A truly good read.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8Jamie Monaghan knows about the war with Hitler from the BBC and through adult conversations; he feels it primarily from food rationing. That is, until the Luftwaffe begins bombing Liverpool three weeks before the boy's 13th birthday, and he is sent on a government-sponsored evacuation to Canada. On the same ship are Jamie's classmate, Tom Bleeker, and his younger sister, Elsie. The two boys share little but their Irish background and a grudging respect. Five days after leaving Liverpool, the Benares and another ship in the convoy are torpedoed by a U-boat. Jamie, Tom, and Elsie survive and are ultimately reunited with their families. Each child, however, has matured and changed forever. Jamie's narrative provides insight into the gradual realization of the true impact of war. His language changes as does his character. Allusions to the things of war evolve into a description of a series of horrifying events including surviving 18 hours in the frigid water of the north Atlantic. Tom is an interesting if not fully developed character, perhaps because he is seen only through Jamie's eyes. Jamie suspects that Tom has been physically abused by his father. Readers see, with Jamie, however, that Tom is a different, stronger, more confident person after his ordeal, and possibly due to his emerging friendship with Jamie. This gripping, fast-paced novel is based on actual events.Maria B. Salvadore, District of Columbia Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
To Jamie Monaghan, the only excitement in his life is trying to figure out his taciturn new classmate, Tom Bleeker, despite the fact that wartime Liverpool is preparing for German bombs. In fact, the year-old war sounds like fun to him, but when the bombs begin to fall, reality sets in. People's homes are destroyed, and lives are lost nightly. Jamie's parents send him off to Canada for the duration, finding him a place aboard the City of Benares. To Jamie's surprise, Bleeker is aboard also, along with his little sister, Elsie. The ship is torpedoed in mid-Atlantic and begins to sink rapidly. Bleeker saves the badly-injured Jamie and Elsie from going down with the doomed ship; they make it to a lifeboat but Elsie is washed overboard. Jumping into the raging water, Bleeker rescues his sister before he is swept away. Even Jamie, knowing of Bleeker's tenaciousness (an early school scene sets the stage for Bleeker's later courage), believes him dead.

In the development of several strong characters Heneghan's writing really shines, particularly in the friendship that emerges between Bleeker and Jamie. It's a great adventure tale that would be exciting enough if it weren't also based on the real sinking of the City of Benares during WW II—an author's note presents the facts. A fine work of historical fiction.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440227649
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 10/13/1998
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 208
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 680L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.89 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2001

    A Thirteen-Year-Old in World War Two

    Imagine yourself living during World War II and you are 13 years old. Sounds pretty scary, doesn¿t it; well that is what Jamie Monachan and his friends went through. In Wish Me Luck by James Heneghan, Jamie is getting pretty scared because the war is getting pretty close to Liverpool; this is where Jamie lives. Jamie¿s parents are getting nervous, so they want Jamie to go on a ship to Canada. Jamie doesn¿t want to go; he wants to stay with his parents. His parents eventually make him go on the ship. Jamie has to share a room with Tom Bleeker who is Jamie¿s enemy. The two go through hard times and have many problems on their way to Canada, like Jamie gets sick and Bleeker won¿t take a shower. I would recommend this book for 6 to 8th grade boys. Matt H.

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