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The UnResolved    by T. K. Welsh order for
by T. K. Welsh
Order:  USA  Can
Dutton, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Kerrily Sapet

On June 15, 1904 fifteen-year-old Mallory Meer boarded the General Slocum steamship. The morning was festive and warm as families from Kleindeutschland, or Little Germany, headed toward Long Island Sound for a church outing. Mallory's thoughts were on one thing - Dustin, whom she had arranged to meet on board. As the band played German love songs Mallory and Dustin snuck downstairs for their first kiss. Neither had any idea the day would end in one of the greatest disasters in New York City history.

Author T.K. Welsh brings Mallory's story to life in the book, The UnResolved. Just moments after Mallory emerges from post-first-kiss-bliss, a fire starts on board the ship. The steamship, in a negligent state of repair, goes up in flames quickly. Lifejackets disintegrate, lifeboats are rusted to the side and immobile, and the captain steams ahead, despite the fact that the ship is burning and sinking. Mallory, like more than a thousand others, drowns. She narrates the story from above as the city is caught up in a rush of grief and the need to find a scapegoat. Religion, money, and power come into play as the story plays out. But in the end all lives are forever changed.

Based on the true story of the General Slocum, Welsh's book tells the tale from an interesting perspective. Her writing is fresh and vivid. Mallory takes turns inhabiting different minds and seeing what others see. Though sometimes these lines can be a bit confusing, this approach lends a depth to the book otherwise impossible. For an account of a little known tragedy Welsh does a tidy job of painting time and place, even if characters sometimes seem a bit flat. The UnResolved is a tale of love, corruption, and revenge - which in the end is always a good combination.

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