Beyond the Mapped Stars

Knopf. Aug. 2021. 368p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781984849557.
Gr 8 Up–Seventeen-year-old Elizabeth is a Mormon living in Utah in 1878 with her family. When her half sister is close to delivering her first child, Elizabeth is chosen to travel from Utah to Wyoming to help. She hopes to make it in time to both help her sister in the delivery and also see an eclipse event with her favorite astronomer, Maria Mitchell. Elizabeth meets several historical scientists, including Thomas Edison and astronomer Mitchell; both display the prejudice woman had to face when trying to become professionals in the science world. The protagonist also meets non-white people for the first time on her journey and admits to having a sheltered life where everyone she lives with comes from the same background. Her inner monologue often reflects on her privilege, including the fact that she and her family live on land stolen from Native Americans. Mental health is reflected ever so slightly with her mother who has “moods” or “dark spells” as well as Elizabeth’s younger sister, Emily, who has “fears,” hinting at anxiety. This is a well-researched journey of a young woman who wants to be more than what society expects of her. Interactions throughout are honest and believable, with Elizabeth growing after each encounter.
VERDICT An excellent addition to YA historical fiction collections for fans of Ruta Sepetys and Stacey Lee.

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