Okay, this one is going to be complicated to describe but hang in there, it’s worth it. The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig is this crazy mix of time travel and fantasy and a coming of age YA story that constantly spins off into unexpected directions.
Nix is a teenage girl who lives on a time-traveling pirate ship. (I know!) She was born in 19th-century Hawaii, but her father has the power to sail a ship into any original map he has–even maps of fictional places. Nix’s mother died when she was a baby so Nix has grown up on the ship with a crew of sailors collected across times and places. She has developed a knack for raising the money they need for new maps through elaborate time travel import/export schemes, and is happy on the ship that is the only home she’s ever known. But her father is obsessed with finding a map that will get him back to Hawaii before Nix’s mother died, and Nix doesn’t know whether she will even still exist if they make it there. Despite not knowing how the rules of time travel might affect her, Nix still agrees to help her father try to track down one last map of Hawaii, but to get it they’ll need to pull off an elaborate heist and not get caught by the police, local crooks, or the winds of time itself.
How does time travel work? What are we willing to sacrifice for love? What is the difference between history and myth? What do we have to give up to make our own lives apart from our family? What would Ocean’s Eleven look like in 19th-century Hawaii? There are all kinds of things happening here, but the story still feels very grounded. And even through most of the book takes place in colonial Hawaii, Nix’s father was originally from the modern-day U.S. so both Nix and the story have a very modern sensibility.
Also, how pretty is that cover?
Kinsey’s Three Word Review: Fantastical historical caper
You might also like: Time and Again is a classic time travel story, and I’ve already talked about how much I love When You Reach Me. Kindred by Octavia Butler is a dark take on the subject, and I’ll always recommend Connie Willis for time travel stories. But a lot of this book dealt with Hawaiian history and Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell is a comprehensive but snarky look at that sad story.