Fire! This is the greatest fear of passengers and crews of ships, both now and in the past. On 15 June 1904, fear becomes reality for fifteen-year-old Mallory Meer of Little Germany on New York City’s Lower East Side. She is one of more than 1300 passengers aboard the General Slocum bound for Locust Grove when fire spreads rapidly through the steamship. Mallory and her baby sister are among the 1,021 who die amidst the panic and confusion as people try to escape while the crew attempts to extinguish the flames.
Her unexpected death compels Mallory to recount what happened – her excitement of a secret tryst with Dustin Brauer, her disappointment when Bingham Goldstein’s bullying ruins her first kiss. With so many dead, everyone knows someone who died; sadness turns to anger after Bingham accuses Dustin of starting the fire. This injustice, the Slocum’s owners’ cover-up of oversights, and love for her grieving family spur Mallory to induce those who know the truth to speak.
This spellbinding young adult novel, based on a true story, overwhelms the reader with the tragic loss of so many lives and the sudden end to the promising life of one young girl. She tells her story without looking through rose-colored glasses and confronts the truths even when they hurt. Mallory will haunt you, just as she does those she leaves behind.