‘A THIEF. AN ARTIST. AN ACROBAT. AN ACTRESS.
WHILE JOSEFA, EMILIE, HINNAH, AND VIOLET SEEMINGLY DON’T HAVE ANYTHING IN COMMON,
THEY’RE UNITED IN ONE GOAL: STEALING THE RUBAIYAT’
– A Million to One
[ About A Million to One ]
Four friends have stolen aboard the Titanic. They’re after the Rubaiyat – a book inlaid with priceless jewels. Josefa is a charismatic thief, Hinnah a daring acrobat, Violet an outstanding actress and Emilie a talented artist.
It is Josefa’s plan, but she needs all of their skills. Despite their very different backgrounds, in a world of first-class passengers and suspicious crew members, the girls must work together to pull off the heist of their lives.
But careless mistakes, old grudges and new romances threaten to jeopardise everything they’ve worked towards. And with the Titanic sailing ever further north, the girls’ chances of survival are a million to one…
[ My Review ]
A Million to One by Adiba Jaigirdar was published on January 5th with Hodder Children’s Books. This high-seas heist is described as a novel that ‘gives Titanic an Ocean’s 8 makeover…an immersive story that makes readers forget one important detail – the ship sinks.’
I don’t generally read books that are targeted at 12-15 year olds but I made an exception for A Million to One for two reasons. One was the Titanic and the second was the mention of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. It was only in the last twelve months that I first heard of this 1859 collection of Persian poetry by Edward Fitzgerald and I was immediately intrigued as to how it would fit into a children’s book.
Josefa, Hinnah, Violet and Emilie are four young girls who have had to adapt to some tough challenges in life. They all have aspirations for a better future beyond the drudgery of their current situation in Dublin. Josefa is a consummate swindler with a feisty personality and a dogged approach to everything she does. Surviving on the streets is difficult but Josefa has a plan to change all that.
The Titanic is set to make its maiden voyage from Queenstown (Cobh) and on board will be an extremely rare and valuable jewel-encrusted copy of The Rubaiyat on its way to a new owner in New York. Josefa wangles tickets for the ship and entrusts Hinnah, Violet and Emilie with her plan. Josefa intends to steal The Rubaiyat but she can’t do it alone. Each of the girls has a special talent and, together, they possess the skills to claim this piece of history as their own.
The plan is to board the ship and on the voyage implement their plan. By the time they reach New York, they hope that the book will be theirs. But, aside from the inevitable tragedy that awaits them, the girls face numerous obstacles, putting themselves in great danger of being caught on more than one occasion. With cunning and dexterity, the four pull off some excellent stunts learning from each other, and more importantly, learning about themselves along the way.
Adiba Jaigirdar describes A Million to One as ‘a sapphic heist novel’ adding that ‘while this is a fun heist novel, it’s obviously based around a historic tragedy. Some of the themes here are heavier than my other books, so proceed with care. And I hope you all enjoy reading this one!’ The importance of friendship is a very strong theme throughout this book and I really enjoyed how each of the four girls were so very different, with unique personalities.
A Million to One is a charming novel with a diverse cast of characters that will appeal to a younger audience who like strong female protagonists and adventure. Obviously there is much sadness and heartbreak, as the Titanic’s demise features in the final section of the book, but there is also a sense of fun and adventure throughout. An enjoyable yet poignant read!
[ Bio ]
Adiba Jaigirdar is the award-winning, critically-acclaimed and bestselling author of The Henna Wars, Hani & Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating, and A Million to One. A Bangladeshi/Irish writer and former teacher, she has an MA in Postcolonial Studies from the University of Kent, England and a BA in English and History from UCD, Ireland.
She is the winner of the YA book prize 2022, the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards 2021, and was a finalist for the 2022 Lambda Literary awards. All of her writing is aided by tea, and a healthy dose of Janelle Monáe and Hayley Kiyoko.
When not writing, she is probably ranting about the ills of colonialism, playing video games, or expanding her overflowing lipstick collection.
Twitter ~ @adiba_j
This sounds like a really good MG/YA story. I had not heard of this book, but I am intrigued. I also love the setting of the Titanic, but we all know how that ends. Great review, Mairéad.
Carla thank you so much. I don’t normally read YA/MG so it was an unusual experience for me!