#AsianLitBingo: The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig 

I am not fond of “girl” titles. 

But I am very fond of this book. 

If there’s a map, Captain Slate can sail to any destination, even if it is mythical. He’s taken his ship and crew (which includes his teenaged daughter Nix) to 19th century Hawaii, the land from 1001 Arabian Nights. He sure has a fancy ship to do all this time traveling in:

She was a striking caravel, her black hull copper clad below the waterline to keep out works (and worse, depending on what waters we traveled). She rode on a keel fashioned from what looked like the rib of a leviathan, carved with labyrinthine runes from stem to stern, and at the prow, a red-haired mermaid bared her breasts to calm the sea. 

Nix is 16. Her parents met in an opium den in Honolulu and her mother, a Chinese immigrant, died the day she was born. In 1868. Oh and her father is actually from modern day New York. He uses his special time-traveling Navigation skills to make money, which is why he was in Hawaii at that time – and also away when she gave birth. 

(Yeah I was kinda confused in the beginning…)

Slate was at sea when Nix was born and when her mother died. And always, he is trying to find a way back to 1868, to find the right map to take them there, to save his love from death. 

So they’ve been traveling the world, traveling across time, to find the map that would bring them back to 1868 Hawaii. And when that perfect map does come along, it brings with it some devastating consequences. 

Reading The Girl from Everywhere is a truly immersive experience. The research that went into this book is astounding. I felt like I was walking into 1868 Honolulu. Heilig does such a beautiful job with her worldbuilding. 

I was especially intrigued to learn about the mercury “rivers” that supposedly surround the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang (the action takes them there for a bit). The belief at the time was that mercury would make one immortal. Emperor Qin took mercury pills – which was probably what killed him at age 50. 

(I later went to look up more about the emperor’s tomb – it’s still unexcavated as they fear that current technology may be unable to fully preserve what is inside. The mausoleum itself was only discovered in 1974 and it’s a sprawling necropolis with terra-cotta warriors. And although the tomb is still unopened, the ground above it has been found to have unusually high levels of mercury.)

The one thing I didn’t really enjoy was the possible love interests. It’s probably just me but I don’t think the book really needed it. Is it because it’s marketed as YA that this is seen as a requirement? But I did like both fellas very much though. Also I am so not a “YA” reader, both in terms of being a fan of YA or in the right age group. So it’s probably just me. 

Also hey, I just discovered that part two of this… series? trilogy? was published this year. Definitely looking forward to that! 

I read this for Asian Lit Bingo – Multiethnic Asian MC (Nix is half-Chinese)


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