Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

A review by Nalini Haynes

Nix Song lives on a time travelling tall ship (hence the title, the Girl From Everywhere) with her father and a small crew of misfits and runaways. Her relationship with her father, whom she usually calls ‘Captain’ or ‘Slate’, is tempestuous.

Slate is an opium addict who lives in the hope of procuring a map to take him to 1868 to save his lover’s – Nix’s mother’s – life. However, life is never simple.

When they arrive in Honolulu expecting 1868, they discover it’s 1884. They meet old friends and make new enemies, including a band of men determined to overthrow the King of Hawaii.

Nix also meets handsome young Blake Hart. Kashmir, Nix’s best friend on board, may be jealous.

Kashmir is distracted, however, by the heist Slate insists they pull to procure the map of his dreams.

Race

Nix Song, as half-American half-Chinese, is used to people doing a double take between herself and her white father. Kashmir, from a mythical Middle Eastern city, also plays the tutor to pander to Victorian sensibilities, which include racism.

Racism isn’t a significant story thread but it is pervasive, like a pebble in one’s shoe.

Time travel

I am a sucker for time travel stories. This one is particularly good, not falling into the usual time travelling trope snares.

History

Many stories have some basis in history but this one is firmly grounded in history and myth. Hawaii in 1884 stands on the brink of destruction in the book as it did in history, with voracious white men determined to plunder its wealth.

At the end of the story, Heilig gives a brief overview of the historical setting. She also briefly outlines some of the myths she weaves into the story. The first time I recall an author providing this additional material was in Mary Stewart’s Crystal Cave series. I always appreciate this added material because I learn a little about history while separating fact from fiction. Kudos to Heilig!

The verdict

The Girl From Everywhere is a time travelling romp that is above faults common to this genre.

Gradually characters come to life. Nix and Kashmir and Slate develop depth quite quickly but the other crew members emerge slowly, gaining depth over time and pages. The crew is multicultural and sympathetic even when intent on following Slate into villainy. White people are both villains and heroes.

I particularly enjoyed Nix’s evolving backstory and love triangle.

The Girl From Everywhere is a fun romp, a romantic adventure and sail through history. I highly recommend it as an escapist read. 4.5 stars.

Read Girl From Everywhere if you enjoyed Girl in Time by John Birmingham, and if you’d enjoy Agency by William Gibson if it had a Young Adult protagonist.

Book details

Rating: 4.5 stars
ISBN: 9781471406652
Publisher: Hotkey, Bonnier (Allen & Unwin)
Pub Date: May 2017
Format:  Paperback – B format, 368 pages
Age: 12 – 16
Category: Young adult fiction, historical fiction, time travel, romance

Girl from Everywhere: eyes look through a "tear" in the page that doubles as ocean on which a tall ship sails