'The Girl from Everywhere' Is Rich with Pirates, Time Travel, and Cartography

By Beim-Esche, Katie Ward | The Christian Science Monitor, April 11, 2016 | Go to article overview

'The Girl from Everywhere' Is Rich with Pirates, Time Travel, and Cartography


Beim-Esche, Katie Ward, The Christian Science Monitor


Ahoy, fellow YA enthusiasts! If and when you read The Girl From Everywhere, debut from Heidi Heilig, you're probably going to encounter this conversation:

"So what's your latest book about?"

"Um, a time-traveling pirate ship. And cartography. And mythology. And maybe parallel universes?"

"....Tell me more."

Take my word for it, "The Girl From Everywhere" holds up to its arresting premise. It's a truly exciting book, brimming with adventure, history, and sinuous potential.

The crew of the ship Temptation can go anywhere and anywhen, provided they have an accurate map of their destination. Want to see Krakatoa explode? Get them an 1883 map of Indonesia. (I don't recommend it.) Watch the Spanish Armada disintegrate with the help of a 1588 English Channel map.

The world is the Temptation's oyster. As long as the map is historically valid, the ship can even visit mythical places. Mount Olympus with Greek gods! Asgard, home of the Norse pantheon! The land of "One Thousand and One Nights"! (Say hi to Scheherezade for me, won't you?)

They've seen it all. But their captain, Slate, has only one place and time in mind: Honolulu, 1868. That's the last time he saw his wife, who died in childbirth while he was away on a time-venture. Slate has spent 16 years obsessively trying to reclaim the last time he was truly happy.

But as any good sci-fi fan can warn you, changing the past can have unforeseen consequences for the present.

Our protagonist is Slate's daughter, Nix, now a teenager and the Temptation's resident expert on cartography, history, and folklore. Nix has spent her entire life on the Temptation, forced to aid her father in his quest.

Slate is a compelling character, as befits a time-traveling sea captain. He's wild, willful, at once single-minded and distracted, zealous, taut, and desperate. An opium junkie with kinetic charisma, he is there and yet not there in every scene.

If they get back to 1868 Hawaii, and her mother doesn't die, what becomes of Nix? Will she get the happy family she's dreamed of, or will she cease to exist? When Slate acquires the most promising map yet, Nix's fears are poised to become reality.

I won't sugarcoat it: This is one of the more labyrinthine plots I've met. But Heilig has a steady hand at the time-traveling tiller. Her use of adjective and metaphor is positively succulent. …

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