Thursday, 5 May 2016

Book Review: The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig + Guest Post

Title: The Girl from Everywhere
Author: Heidi Heilig
Author Info: Website|Blog|Facebook|Twitter
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Time Travel
Series: The Girl from Everywhere #1
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: 3rd March 2016
Rating: 4 stars

Tell Me About It
It was the kind of August day that hinted at monsoons, and the year was 1774, though not for very much longer.

Sixteen-year-old Nix Song is a time-traveller. She, her father and their crew of time refugees travel the world aboard The Temptation, a glorious pirate ship stuffed with treasures both typical and mythical. Old maps allow Nix and her father to navigate not just to distant lands, but distant times - although a map will only take you somewhere once. And Nix's father is only interested in one time, and one place: Honolulu 1868. A time before Nix was born, and her mother was alive. Something that puts Nix's existence rather dangerously in question...

Nix has grown used to her father's obsession, but only because she's convinced it can't work. But then a map falls into her father's lap that changes everything. And when Nix refuses to help, her father threatens to maroon Kashmir, her only friend (and perhaps, only love) in a time where Nix will never be able to find him. And if Nix has learned one thing, it's that losing the person you love is a torment that no one can withstand. Nix must work out what she wants, who she is, and where she really belongs before time runs out on her forever.
My Thoughts
When this book arrived at my door step, I had never heard of it, but I did fall in love with the cover. I picked it up to see what it was about and struggled to get past the first few chapters, so I put it down to try again at a later date. When that later date did eventually arrive I was hooked.

The Girl from Everywhere follows Nix and her father, with a very mixed crew, as they travel through time to find a map that will take them back to save the life of Nix's Mum. The only catch, is that the crew can only travel to a map that is dated and labeled correctly, and once they leave they can never return. After a few failed attempts they eventually find a map that will get them one step closer, but this last step comes with a very big problem.

The Girl from Everywhere is a book that drew me in. I loved the whole concept of time travel, by navigating and reading the maps, and how it came with a catch. I actually enjoyed getting to visit past times and experience a lot of things first hand with Nix and the crew. However I did feel sorry for her having to go through this. By finding a map to save her Mum's life, there would be no guarantee that Nix would still survive, and as we get near the end of the book, we do see a big problem with this idea, and it comes with a hard decision to be made.

I really enjoyed how it mixes fairy tales with truth, how believing in something and using the maps makes things work. I loved the relationship Nix has with her crew...well most of them, and how they are all there for different reasons and why they stay. The Girl from Everywhere is a book that mixes tales, twists things around, and surprises you with new secrets and revelations throughout the pages.

Final Verdict
The Girl from Everywhere is a must read book for fans of time travel. I loved how it all ended and I can't wait to see what the next adventure will be for this group.

Below I have a special guest post from the author, Heidi Heilig, about diversity in books.

Diversity is big news these days.

Two years ago, the YA world saw the creation of the We Need Diverse Books campaign ( to take action regarding the lack of diversity in kidlit. Since then--and in large part due to their tireless efforts--we’ve seen awareness of and appreciation for diversity start to go mainstream. Pitch contests like #DVPit ( have been “created to showcase pitches about and especially by marginalized voices.” There are diversity panels at nearly every writing event. Recently, THE HATE U GIVE by A.C. Thomas, the debut inspired by the #BlackLivesMatter movement, was acquired in a 13 house auction. Everywhere, agents and editors are looking for the next great diverse story--thankfully, there are a lot of great writers from marginalized backgrounds just waiting to be discovered.

The book world was a little different when I was growing up. In the 80’s and 90’s, I was a little hapa haole girl with a deep love of fantasy. I devoured books like the Lord of the Rings or the Black Cauldron. And of course, the one thing they had in common (besides magical adventures) was that the heroes were white males.

It took me a while to wonder about that. When I was a child, the prevalence of white male heroes was too ubiquitous to question. Most mainstream stories--in novels, movies, or even history books--tend to center white straight cis able-bodied men, and fantasy is no exception. It’s a common quip that in fantasy, it’s easier to find a unicorn than a person of color.

I only realized how much the dearth of non-white, non-male protagonists affected me when I read a fantasy book with a female protagonist of color. I was in my 20’s by then, and the book was THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson. Not only did the book feature a kick-ass magic-using non-white heroine, but she was fat, too! That book blew my mind. For the first time, I saw parts of myself in a main character. Not just my hunger for adventure or longing for magic powers, but my dark hair. My tan skin. My brown eyes.

After that, there was no turning back. When I sat down to write my first novel, I couldn’t imagine writing a world that didn’t include the kind of people I recognized from my own life and experiences. So it is that Nix, the main character in THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE, is hapa haole. Her father is bipolar and an addict. Her crewmates include an ex-monk from China and a queer black couple from Sudan, and her charming love interest is Persian. Together, they time travel using old maps, sailing through myth and history on a pirate ship and trying to save Nix’s mother without erasing Nix’s existence.

And even now, in this day and age, I’ve had some people ask if cramming so many different marginalized people on one ship is really realistic. Interestingly, no one ever asks that question about time travel.

But as I noted, times are changing. Already, we have fantasies like Renee Ahdieh’s THE WRATH AND THE DAWN hitting the best-seller list, and books like Roshani Chokshi’s THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN and Audrey Coulthurst’s OF FIRE AND STARS getting a lot of buzz. Fantasy is getting more and more inclusive by the day, and I personally can’t wait until marginalized people are easier to find in fantasy than unicorns.

A few additional recommended titles for inclusive fantasy:

TIMEKEEPER by Tara Sim (coming in November)

A short bonus list of inclusive sci-fi:

THE LAST LIFE OF AVRILIS by Bethany Morrow (coming in September)

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig is out now, published by Hot Key.

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