Title: Amanda Miranda
Author: Richard Peck
Year: 2012 (paperback). Originally published in 1980.
Economic concepts: class, inequality, wealth, incentives
Review: Although Mary Cooke bore an uncanny resemblance to Amanda Whitwell, the similarity did not go past their physical appearances. Mary had grown up a free spirit in a very poor household, trained to serve the rich and inspired to see the beauty around her. Amanda had grown up a selfish egomaniac in a wealthy household, accustomed to getting everything she wanted and blind to the needs of people around her.
Fate brought these two look-alike opposites together when Mary started working for the Whitwell family as Amanda's personal attendant. It did not take long for Amanda to start using Mary as a pawn in her scheme to escape Britain's stifling class structure and run off with the family's handsome, rugged servant John Thorne. This scheme ultimately involved a trip on the maiden voyage of the Titanic, thus leading to a reversal of fortune that neither Mary nor Amanda could ever have foreseen.
Adventure, danger, love, and intrigue make this book a most enjoyable read. Along the way are some good lessons about class and how difficult it can be to break free of rigid social structures that are tied to wealth and the lack thereof. Originally published in 1980, this new paperback edition remains as timely as ever given the continued interest in the backgrounds and destinies of the passengers who boarded the ill-fated Titanic.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Children and Economics