Library Journal Review
Shapiro, in her first full-length work of nonfiction, deftly tells the story of Billy -Gawronski, a young boy determined to seek adventure. Through reading novels and following the events of real-life explorers, Gawronski cultivated a knowledge of and insatiable desire for risk-taking. In 1928, at the age of 17, Gawronski's ambition was fulfilled. During the height of the Jazz Age, Richard Byrd, a famous American explorer and idol to Gawronski, led an expedition to Antarctica. Byrd intended to be the first person to fly over the South Pole. At this point, the United States had largely been absent from Antarctic exploration. Byrd was already a household name and the country was excited. One night, Gawronski swam across New York's Hudson River and climbed on board Byrd's ship. He was found with two other stowaways and sent home. After several more of these kinds of attempts, Gawronski won the respect of Byrd and was hired on as part of the crew. VERDICT This fascinating and exciting story contrasts the optimism and sense of progress of the 1920s with the devastation of the 1930s. Readers of popular history and biographies will find much to delight in here.-Timothy Berge, SUNY Oswego Lib. © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
In this true-life adventure yarn, filmmaker Shapiro reconstructs the story of Billy Gawronski, who captured the boundless optimism of the American national psyche in the lead up to the Great Depression when, in 1928, he attempted to stow away on a ship headed to the Antarctic. The enthusiastic 18-year-old was caught trying to sneak onboard three times before he could finally convince his hero, commander Richard Byrd, to let him join as a mess boy aboard the Eleanor Bolling en route to the South Pole. Shapiro interweaves snippets of Russell Owen's Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the expedition for the New York Times into the main narrative, which tracks Billy's progression from being a reckless stowaway to commanding a ship in WWII. In the characters of Billy and his shipmates, Shapiro finds a "microcosm of American barriers and dreams." This coming-of-age story about a strong-willed boy with an insatiable appetite for adventure is evocative of the Hardy Boys and will appeal to both adult and young adult readers. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.