Summer Reading: The Girl from Everywhere

The Girl from Everywhere
By Heidi Heilig
When I was young, I learned to expect loss. Every time you slept, something disappeared. Whenever you woke up, someone else was gone. But . . . I also learned that every day, you created everything anew. And whatever you had, you enjoyed as long as it lasted.

Nix’s dad can sail his ship anywhere, as long as he has a map—and she’s been anywhere with him, from mythical Scandinavia to modern-day New York City and all kinds of real and imaginary places in between.Where she hasn’t been is back to 1868 Hawaii, where she was born and her mother died—but that’s the map her father has spent Nix’s entire life looking for it, and it’s starting to look like he might finally have found it. But what happens to Nix if her father rewrites history?

I mean, really, how can you resist a story that centers on a time-traveling pirate ship that can go anywhere someone’s taken the time to draw a map of? It’s such a good idea that I forgive The Girl from Everywhere for having the inevitable YA Boring Love Triangle. (It’s not between a wolf and a vampire, but honestly, it might as well be. YA writers: Seriously, we do not need love triangles to sub in for plot action. I promise. Please stop.) Nix’s dad, Captain Slate, and his motley crew of sailors (who come from real and imaginary ports around the globe) are well-drawn, fascinating characters—in fact, they’re so interesting that they often overshadow Nix, which I think makes sense in a story about a girl who’s trying to figure out where she belongs in the world and whether she actually has a right to her own life. (It’s not clear how saving Nix’s mom could affect Nix’s own timeline, a fact that doesn’t seem to concern her quest-obsessed father at all. And it’s clear that Nix blames herself for her mother’s death—and again, that’s a fact that doesn’t seem to concern her father at all.) The world-building is terrific—though you could quibble that not all the nuances of the time travel in the book are clearly explained (Shouldn’t fake maps work the same way imaginary maps do?),  I’m pretty much always willing to suspend my disbelief when it comes to the actual machinations of magic. And Helig gets bonus points for solid research on 19th century Hawaii, which is where a substantial chunk of the book takes place.

There are lots of reasons to love The Girl from Everywhere. I didn’t love it, but I did like it a lot. And if you’re a fan of fantastic time travel and/or pirates, this one should be on your library list.

(If you’re playing along with summer reading bingo, this one counts as a book published in 2016.)