“The Girl From Everywhere” by Heidi Heilig (2016)
Genre: Fantasy, YA, Fiction, Historical
Page Length: 464 pages (hardcover edition)
Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.
As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.
But the end to it all looms closer every day.
Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.
For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.
She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.
Or she could disappear. (description from Goodreads)
The Girl From Everywhere is a fascinating story about a girl who lives on a pirate ship that can sail anywhere in the world through different time periods. When I first saw this book I was enraptured by the cover alone. Then I read the synopsis. Pirate ship?! Time travel?! I was hooked.
The whole novel kicks into gear when Slate, Nix’s father and captain of the ship, has a lead to finding the map which would lead him to Nix’s mother. The big question that surrounds the novel is that if they manage to complete the journey to 1868 Honolulu, will Nix cease to exist?
Though life on a time traveling pirate ship is amazing it definitely seems to have its ups and downs. Nix and her father get to see the sights of these magnificent places, but they constantly are unsettled by the fact that they both belong everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Slate mourns the loss of his love, while Nix is struggling to find her sense of identity.
My first impression of Nix is that she seems confident and outspoken. She constantly puts on a brave face no matter what the situation is. Her life seems very lonely even though she surrounded by people she considers her family. She is always on the go and she feels neglected by her dad who is dead set on finding THE map while also drowning his sorrows in copious amounts of alcohol. Through the novel Nix gets a better sense of identity of who she really is and grows into an overall stronger person.
Heilig is a fantastic writer who puts a lot of time and dedication into describing all of the times and places she references in the book. Her details are so precise and settings are so picturesque, it’s as if you (the reader) are actually there. She also includes a diverse cast of characters who come from different time periods and cultures. While we do get a pretty good description of the ship crew’s backgrounds I still wanted to learn more about them and Nix, whose background also seems to still equally be somewhat of a mystery even after the book ends.
Heilig also makes the story fun by taking elements of myths, legends, and folklore from various cultures. The story jumps into action from the very first page rather than a slow build up. Another thing I also appreciated is that romance is a part of the story, but wasn’t central to the plot. Rather than being a love story like some fantasy books, The Girl From Everywhere is one big adventure novel that focuses on a theme of self-discovery.
I’m definitely adding this book to my list of my favorite YA reads for 2016!