The Stars in April

Reviewed by:

Elizabeth Molitor from Canton, MI, a Professional Writing student at Taylor University in Upland, IN.



The Stars in April


Peggy Wirgau


Illuminate YA Fiction

Publication Date:



Print book


247 pages


Guntur, India, 1912. Twelve-year-old Ruth Becker dreams of playing her violin at the annual Spring Festival, but when her father announces God is calling their family back to their home in the States, Ruth’s plans are disrupted. While Reverend Becker remains at the orphanage in Guntur to await a replacement, Ruth must travel to England with her mother and two younger siblings where they will board the RMS Titanic for the last leg of their journey. Even as she encounters strange new surroundings and unfamiliar faces, Ruth takes comfort in recording the constellations each night knowing her father is looking at the same stars. At the same time, she struggles with disappointment and frustration toward her parents, yet through this perilous adventure she learns where courage may be found when life seems uncertain.

In this debut novel, Peggy Wirgau brings the true story of Titanic survivor Ruth Becker into the light. From descriptions of twentieth-century ships to the characters’ outfits and the meals they ate, Wirgau’s use of vivid details bring this story to life. At the same time, she is careful not to overwhelm the reader with exposition, allowing the setting to unfold naturally as Ruth journeys from India to England and finally, the United States. In addition, Wirgau does an excellent job capturing the spirit of a twelve-year-old girl. Ruth demonstrates an adventurous and somewhat mischievous personality. She is also frequently annoyed with her parents and younger siblings, sometimes to the point of becoming repetitive.

Perhaps the most compelling parts of Ruth’s journey are the questions she wrestles with over the course of the book. For example, how do you handle unexpected changes in life? Or what does it look like to step outside of yourself and care for the needs of others? That being said, the ending reads a bit more like a moral lesson than a narrative, but in the same breath Ruth’s closing reflections feel appropriate given her traumatic experience.

Overall, The Stars in April is an enjoyable read full of adventure, fun characters, and thought-provoking themes.



4 out of 5

Suggested Audience

Children ages 10–12. Missionary kids. Anyone with a passion for history, especially stories about the Titanic.

Christian Impact

Although the Beckers are missionaries, God is not mentioned much until the end of the story. Ruth’s father believes moving their family to America is God’s will, and her mother reminds her to say her prayers before bed, but Ruth’s personal thoughts and feelings about God are somewhat ambiguous. Then in the wake of tragedy when everything is out of her control, she cries out to the Lord for help. In summary, Wirgau takes a subtler approach than some Christian novels, but I would argue the impact is stronger because of what she doesn’t say. Rather than telling readers what to think, she leaves space for them to ask their own questions, such as, “What do you do when your plans don’t match up with God’s?” Thus, presenting opportunities for meaningful discussion.

Other Notes (Optional)

Supplemental material includes biographies for Ruth Becker and her siblings, discussion questions, constellations of the northern hemisphere, historical photographs, and a bibliography with additional resources.

The Stars in April


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One Response to “The Stars in April”

  1. I wondered about the ages 10-12 you suggested, since the book is over 400 pages long.

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