The Stowaway: A Young Man’s Extraordinary Journey to Antarctica by Laurie Gwen Shapiro.
An overwhelming longing for adventure propels young Billy Gawronski to ignore his parents hopes and worries and to jump into the Hudson, taking a late-night swim through the dark waters to a ship bound for uncharted regions of Antarctica under the command of Admiral Byrd. Billy is caught but undeterred. Nothing can quell his determination. Against the backdrop of recent exploration of the North Pole and Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight, Billy’s imagination is fired by the thrill of seeing a pristine continent.
The story of how Laurie came to write this adventure is almost as riveting as the story itself. She began by researching St. Stanislaus Polish Catholic Church in the East Village and came upon the stowaway, whose pluck captured the imagination of New Yorkers of the era, the late 1920’s, back when a dozen or so newspapers competed in breezy energetic prose for the attention of readers. She tracked down Billy’s survivors and even ventured to the cold continent herself. Laurie’s own style captures the excitement.