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The Turnaway Girls

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Delphernia Undersea wants to sing. But everyone on Blightsend knows music belongs to the Masters — and girls with singing throats are swallowed by the sea. On the strange, stormy island of Blightsend, twelve-year-old Delphernia Undersea has spent her whole life in the cloister of turnaway girls, hidden from sea and sky by a dome of stone and the laws of the island. Outside, Delphernia Undersea wants to sing. But everyone on Blightsend knows music belongs to the Masters — and girls with singing throats are swallowed by the sea. On the strange, stormy island of Blightsend, twelve-year-old Delphernia Undersea has spent her whole life in the cloister of turnaway girls, hidden from sea and sky by a dome of stone and the laws of the island. Outside, the Masters play their music. Inside, the turnaway girls silently make that music into gold. Making shimmer, Mother Nine calls it. But Delphernia can’t make shimmer. She would rather sing than stay silent. When a Master who doesn’t act like a Master comes to the skydoor, it’s a chance for Delphernia to leave the cloister. Outside the stone dome, the sea breathes like a wild beast, the sky watches with stars like eyes, and even the gardens have claws. Outside, secrets fall silent in halls without sound. And outside, Delphernia is caught — between the island’s sinister Custodian and its mysterious Childer-Queen. Between a poem-speaking prince and a girl who feels like freedom. And in a debut that glimmers with hope and beauty, freedom — to sing, to change, to live — is precisely what’s at stake.


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Delphernia Undersea wants to sing. But everyone on Blightsend knows music belongs to the Masters — and girls with singing throats are swallowed by the sea. On the strange, stormy island of Blightsend, twelve-year-old Delphernia Undersea has spent her whole life in the cloister of turnaway girls, hidden from sea and sky by a dome of stone and the laws of the island. Outside, Delphernia Undersea wants to sing. But everyone on Blightsend knows music belongs to the Masters — and girls with singing throats are swallowed by the sea. On the strange, stormy island of Blightsend, twelve-year-old Delphernia Undersea has spent her whole life in the cloister of turnaway girls, hidden from sea and sky by a dome of stone and the laws of the island. Outside, the Masters play their music. Inside, the turnaway girls silently make that music into gold. Making shimmer, Mother Nine calls it. But Delphernia can’t make shimmer. She would rather sing than stay silent. When a Master who doesn’t act like a Master comes to the skydoor, it’s a chance for Delphernia to leave the cloister. Outside the stone dome, the sea breathes like a wild beast, the sky watches with stars like eyes, and even the gardens have claws. Outside, secrets fall silent in halls without sound. And outside, Delphernia is caught — between the island’s sinister Custodian and its mysterious Childer-Queen. Between a poem-speaking prince and a girl who feels like freedom. And in a debut that glimmers with hope and beauty, freedom — to sing, to change, to live — is precisely what’s at stake.

30 review for The Turnaway Girls

  1. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Greendale

    A debut that sings! Chewins introduces both an inventive idea (girls who weave gold from music) and a lyricism rarely found in middle-grade literature (best described as literary fantasy). The advanced diction and complexity of the story make it suitable for upper middle-grade readers (ages 10 to 14), but this book that blazes with sorrow and longing will likely enchant adults, too. Highly recommend to fans of The Girl Who Drank the Moon or anyone who enjoys a brooding tale centered on a girl wi A debut that sings! Chewins introduces both an inventive idea (girls who weave gold from music) and a lyricism rarely found in middle-grade literature (best described as literary fantasy). The advanced diction and complexity of the story make it suitable for upper middle-grade readers (ages 10 to 14), but this book that blazes with sorrow and longing will likely enchant adults, too. Highly recommend to fans of The Girl Who Drank the Moon or anyone who enjoys a brooding tale centered on a girl with an unusual, forbidden talent.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    A gorgeous cover The Turnaway Girls is a beautiful middle grade book that leads with the message of being your true self. Thanks to Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review

  3. 4 out of 5

    R.M. Romero

    A shining, feminist book as lyrical as the songs the heroine hides away inside of her.

  4. 4 out of 5

    K.A.

    It is a rare thing indeed to find an author with as much command of language as Hayley Chewins. I was so floored reading this that I gasped out loud and hugged the book--I RARELY EVER HUG THE BOOK. But the imagination, the language, the poetry of the words and story, it all came together so perfectly I fell right into the cloister with Delphernia, who was such a joy. This is a story for anyone who's been pushed down and fought tooth and nail to rise. A book-friend for anyone yearning to sing, wh It is a rare thing indeed to find an author with as much command of language as Hayley Chewins. I was so floored reading this that I gasped out loud and hugged the book--I RARELY EVER HUG THE BOOK. But the imagination, the language, the poetry of the words and story, it all came together so perfectly I fell right into the cloister with Delphernia, who was such a joy. This is a story for anyone who's been pushed down and fought tooth and nail to rise. A book-friend for anyone yearning to sing, who perhaps never thought they could. This author is a new favorite, and I can't wait for everyone to read the magic of THE TURNAWAY GIRLS!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Joanna Meyer

    This lovely book is filled with music, music, music. It brims with it. It sings. I could get lost in the rhythm of the prose and live there forever. Simply gorgeous. 💚

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kester Grant

    I devoured Turnaway Girls in one sitting, Chewins paints a lyrical magical world in the style of Laini Taylor, this is a completely original fairy tale by a stunning new talent.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rena

    What a stunning book. The language is poetic, thoughtful, sparse, but so carefully crafted and emotive. Reading the entire book felt like being in the best kind of dream - where anything could happen, and you never want it to end. I would read anything by this author. What a command of language! I was really blown away by this book. I hope that everyone who reads it - young and old, is as inspired as I was - to speak up, to use my voice, to never surrender my dreams. Stunning.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Karlita | Tale Out Loud

    I'm so excited to read this book! But for now, I'm hype to share the interview I did with Hayley Chewins where she talks about how everyone who has been bullied can relate to Delphernia Undersea’s character. Read more here: https://taleoutloud.wordpress.com/201...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Katie Clark

    I was lucky enough to read an early draft of this book and can't express how special it is. Hayley Chewins writes with an elegance and complete surrender to fantasy that I go looking for in books by Laini Taylor and Kiran Milwood Hargrave. There is something extremely beautiful about when a writer opens up their soul and it pours onto the page into words with mystical lyricism that create images of liquid gold. This is a book about remaining true to who you are even if everyone around you is pro I was lucky enough to read an early draft of this book and can't express how special it is. Hayley Chewins writes with an elegance and complete surrender to fantasy that I go looking for in books by Laini Taylor and Kiran Milwood Hargrave. There is something extremely beautiful about when a writer opens up their soul and it pours onto the page into words with mystical lyricism that create images of liquid gold. This is a book about remaining true to who you are even if everyone around you is programmed a different way. Not only is it heartwarming and uplifting but it is also empowering; encouraging you to find your voice, lift it and never stop singing. It's beautiful.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa Nelson

    *I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.* What an absolutely magical, heartfelt, wonderful story. I can’t begin to describe how wonderful this book is. Even as an adult, this story is so much and if I’d read it fifteen years ago, it easily would have been a favorite. I wasn’t sure how weird this was going to be, because the description is a bit strange, but it is absolutely wonderful and if you like fantasy at all, definitely give *I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.* What an absolutely magical, heartfelt, wonderful story. I can’t begin to describe how wonderful this book is. Even as an adult, this story is so much and if I’d read it fifteen years ago, it easily would have been a favorite. I wasn’t sure how weird this was going to be, because the description is a bit strange, but it is absolutely wonderful and if you like fantasy at all, definitely give this a read, because: Wow! Chewins has created a fascinating world in which everything has a place and function. Girls who turn away from their reflections as infants are trained as “turnaway girls,” growing up separate from the outside world to learn how to turn music into gold. Boys with a talent for music become music-makers and get to choose a turnaway girl for themselves once they become of age. There is no room for differences or otherness. On top of that, one man is trying to take complete control for himself and is doing this by cutting down everyone else. There are cautionary tales about the one who was different and didn’t conform, so she was swallowed by the sea; children are warned by this story to make sure to fall in line. Also, not only are the turnaway girls now separate from the rest of society, but their matron has been taught how to take away all their curiosity as well; who they are as individuals are literally sucked away by a woman following orders so that they can fall into line with the rest of society. So you have the main character who is a turnaway girl; she is supposed to be silent, but she loves to sing. I absolutely loved that Chewins added a Music-Maker who decided she didn’t want to act like a boy anymore. It was such a powerful moment when the main character realized that she wasn’t the only “other” in the universe; there were people like her who didn’t fit this mold that their society had created for themselves. Even just the descriptions of the main character hiding away to sing were so poignant and moving and so relatable; I think we’ve all had those moments where we take time for ourselves just to be ourselves without having to worry about others’ judgments. This story speaks to a deeper sense about power, identity, and the lengths people go to in order to not rock the boat or get in trouble. It’s a powerful tale that younger people will appreciate so much, made beautiful and fascinating by the narrative Chewins has woven around these issues. I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s amazing. Also posted on Purple People Readers.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Melanie Sumrow

    This is one of the most lyrical middle grade novels I’ve ever read—each word has been chosen with purpose and the result is astonishing! I love how Delphernia stands up against the expectations of her in a very rigid society that has already decided her place. She is strong, but not without self-doubt, making her an endearing character.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kathie

    Some books, like a fine wine, need to be savoured. This fantasy middle grade debut coming out in October is one of those books. Reading THE TURNAWAY GIRLS transports you to a place you’ve never been, full of rich language and images that feel so unlike your own world. It’s deep, dark and beautiful, and you should keep it on your radar.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Amelinda Bérubé

    This book's lilting, musical, magical prose will pull you right into Delphernia's world until you can practically taste the sea air and feel the stone walls closing in. A beautiful reminder to any reader that they can use their voice to change the world.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Solomon

    Stunning.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Christina Collins

    Musical, breathtaking prose...an empowering, feminist message...I loved every word!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Shelby M. (Read and Find Out)

    4.5 stars! My Video Review

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kristi Housman Confessions of a YA Reader

    I wasn't sure what to think of this book, but once I got halfway through, I really started liking it a lot. Delphernia is a turnaway girl.  She is being raised with the other turnaway girls by Mother Nine.  Mother Nine is extremely abusive (trigger warning).  The turnaway girls make shimmer (gold) when they hear music, but Delphernia can't make it.  She would prefer to sing, but girls who sing are taken by the sea. The Masters come to take away some of the girls.  They play music and the girls mak I wasn't sure what to think of this book, but once I got halfway through, I really started liking it a lot. Delphernia is a turnaway girl.  She is being raised with the other turnaway girls by Mother Nine.  Mother Nine is extremely abusive (trigger warning).  The turnaway girls make shimmer (gold) when they hear music, but Delphernia can't make it.  She would prefer to sing, but girls who sing are taken by the sea. The Masters come to take away some of the girls.  They play music and the girls make their shimmer.  Delphernia wasn't chosen at first, but then a boy showed up later to take her with.  The night before, that same boy heard Delphernia singing.  Her singing also created golden birds. After she leaves the cloister, Delphernia spends time with Linna, a girl Master.  She trusts Linna with her secrets.  Something happens that puts Linna's life in danger.  Delphernia needs to try to overcome her fears, forget everything she was taught, and save Linna. This was a beautifully written story about a girl who was told she was nothing and realizes her self worth.   I gave this book 4 stars.  Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for providing me an arc for review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Diane Magras

    This is a powerful fable about girls who are forced to use their voices to produce gold for their rulers' wealth, as well as a girl whose voice can create more than gold: She breathes souls into stone. Never direct but beautifully subtle, this story weaves a dramatic plot of escape and survival with a sensitive, mysterious protagonist fighting against what she's always been told against the background of legends: Most of a sea hungry for those who sing.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sophie Cameron

    Set in a world where masters play music and girls spin it into gold, this is a brilliantly original story: lyrical and mystical and so beautifully written, with a strong protagonist and an empowering message. Hayley Chewins is a phenomenal writer, and this is definitely one to watch.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tahlia

    Blog Post: https://museofnyxmares.wordpress.com/... 2.5/5 Stars *I was provided with an ARC of this book through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest opinion. Oh dear, I nearly didn’t finish this, but I really try not to do that, even with books I’ve brought myself. But I really just felt like I didn’t have it in me to finish this book, for the life of me, I just couldn’t get into it. The very first paragraph had me so excited as I could tell that the author was someone who searches for the most be Blog Post: https://museofnyxmares.wordpress.com/... 2.5/5 Stars *I was provided with an ARC of this book through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest opinion. Oh dear, I nearly didn’t finish this, but I really try not to do that, even with books I’ve brought myself. But I really just felt like I didn’t have it in me to finish this book, for the life of me, I just couldn’t get into it. The very first paragraph had me so excited as I could tell that the author was someone who searches for the most beautiful and interesting ways to phrase everything. There were so many stand out sentences that I marveled at, but unfortunately the text as a whole just didn’t work for me. I felt as if I was constantly lagging behind the story, like I was always having to play catch up and unfortunately I didn’t manage to in the end. I was just over the halfway mark when I almost made that difficult decision to stop. But I gave myself some time away from it and decided to continue on, not because I particularly wanted to see where the story would go, but because I hate not finishing books. Especially as some books manage to turn things around by the end. However, I think that it’s only fair for me to expect to have a grasp on the story and characters this far in, but honestly I had no idea what was going on, it’s the longest state of confusion that I’ve ever experienced. I didn’t understand the characters, their world, or where the story was going at all. I’m so very disappointed about this because I truly loved some of the writing, but sadly it just wasn’t for me. I didn’t really care for any of the characters apart from Linna maybe, as she was just so bright and full of life, compared to everyone else. And I liked the odd little Bly and how everything that come out of his mouth was poetry quotes, it was quite charming. I couldn’t quite figure out the Childer-Queen or Mother Nine and it actually really bothered me, they both seemed like they could’ve been really interesting characters if developed more. The Custodian didn’t do much for me in terms of being a villain, he was quite a disappointing one if I’m honest. And with the main character Delphernia, I mostly felt sorry for her because of the way Mother Nine treated her, it was actually quite shocking to be honest. My feelings towards her didn’t stretch beyond this sympathy though, which already made me less interested in continuing on. The idea of the Turnaway Girls intrigued me massively, but once I got the gist of it, I was still confused and it fell a bit flat for me. I can’t work out why, but I just expected it to be a bit more, to mean a bit more, but it all felt too metaphorical to me. When I thought that I’d understood something, I’d then learn something different, like I thought that only boys could be masters. And I thought that all men were masters, but some men can’t make music and so are treated as slaves. There just seemed to be a load of random facts that we were given that weren’t fully explored or simply didn’t make sense, like I didn’t understand Mother Nine’s conflicting actions or her connection to the Sea-Singer. I also didn’t get who the Mothers were and how and why they were chosen, as there had been nine of them all together. I previously stated that I enjoyed some of the writing a lot and I still standby that, but the plot just wasn’t good. I felt so lost the whole way through, without a steady and strong plot to follow, another reviewer mentioned feeling liked they’d missed bits of the story and I can’t think of a better way to describe what I experienced. I keep saying confusing, but it was exactly that. The world building was patchy and the setting was non existent for me, because I just couldn’t conjure any of it in my head, it was trying to say the least. Someone else mentioned that they think that this would have worked better as a YA instead of a Middle Grade, and I have to wholeheartedly agree. There was potential here for a great book, but it lacked a certain depth and clarity, that felt masked by the beautiful writing. I don’t think I could personally recommend it, as I just didn’t really enjoy it, but most of its reviews have been four or five star ratings, so it may just be one of those subjective books that everyone responds wildly differently to.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Elliott

    As a child, I devoured fairy tales. The worlds were magical, but they also showed me the reality that there was both good and bad, lightness and darkness in the world. Fairy tales did not sugar coat the violence nor the importance of our choices. The older I got, the more I continued to read books that reminded me of those first fairy tales I loved. Fantastic and magical worlds created by E. Nesbitt, George MacDonald, Lewis Carroll, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Diana Wynne Jones, and Ursula K. Le As a child, I devoured fairy tales. The worlds were magical, but they also showed me the reality that there was both good and bad, lightness and darkness in the world. Fairy tales did not sugar coat the violence nor the importance of our choices. The older I got, the more I continued to read books that reminded me of those first fairy tales I loved. Fantastic and magical worlds created by E. Nesbitt, George MacDonald, Lewis Carroll, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Diana Wynne Jones, and Ursula K. Le Guin. Later on, I would add Mervyn Peake, Angela Carter, Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling, Catherynne M. Valente, and Katherine Arden. I have never lost the wonder of reading works by writers who create mythical and magical worlds that had not existed before they put pen to page. When, as a boy, I learned that people actually wrote these books, I thought no less of them than proper wizards, mages, or magicians. What they did was no less miraculous than what happened on the pages of their books. I love to be transported to somewhere new, somewhere unimagined until that author discovered it in their own imaginations and brought those worlds into the words of stories. There is something childlike about allowing oneself to be given over to an author's creation that I have never, ever lost. "Mother Nine says it's the wall that does it - fills the shimmer room with music and gold. But I know it's someone on the other side. I know it's a boy. A boy who was born and wrapped in scrolls of music instead of blankets. A boy with bells crowning his head, the sea a chorus of thrush spray behind him, lifting a stone-flute to his lip. Breathing songs into living." So begins The Turnaway Girls and, like that boy with his songs, Hayley Chewins breathes this story into life. The protagonist, 12-year-old Delphernia Undersea is a "turnaway girl." What, you may ask, is a turnaway girl? A passage that takes place between Delphernia and Mother Nine, the head of the cloister where young girls take the music that is played by the Masters outside their walls and make that music into gold or "shimmer" as Mother Nine refers to it, best explains it: Mother nine breathes ragged breaths, walking a circle about me. "Do you know, Delphernia, why I never look you in the eye?" I stare at the ground, "You don't look at a thing invisible," I say, "You don't look at a thing that is not to be seen." "And what of you?" She slaps the twig-switch against her palm. My skin is sack, and I'm wriggling around inside it. "Turnaway girls are not seen - they see. Turnaway girls are not heard - they hear." It's a true marvel for books to surprise me, to make give myself over to it so completely to the story's lyrical, almost musical style. Like the music that is turned to gold, Hayley Chewins' writing shimmers because she uses language in a way that is poetic, deep, rich, complex and vivid. I read with wonder and admiration. Delphernia may be only a turnaway girl to Mother Nine, but that's not how she views herself. Like Jane Eyre, the heroine of this novel is sees her own identity as more than her lowly situation. In a passage that is exquisite in beauty and description, the reader begins to see Delphernia's strong inner self: The cloisterwings sigh among half-dead leaves, waiting for me to sing to them. I loosen a dangling strip of the hollow tree's bark and press it to my tongue. It tastes of the rain that pours through the skydoor once every week when Mother Nine opens it to receive our food from the Custodian and our water from the clouds, when the cloisterwings are locked in bent-gold cages so that they cannot escape. It tastes of how it must feel to see the whole sky in one go. It tastes of having wings. I grab one of the drooping branches and hoist myself into the hollow tree's belly, sliding down, down, down. My finger bones prickle as I settle into the joy of the dark. In the dark, I am hidden. In the dark, I can sing. In the dark, I am as much cloisterwing as girl. It is in such a moment that Delphernia realizes she can make light-strands as the othergirls do in the shimmer-room, but she does so not with the singing of the Masters but with her own singing. This gloriously transcendent moment brings about her realization: I made this. In creation begins identity. Unlike the other girls, she can create not "a dead clump of gold" but she has "sung a bird with a beating heart." From the depths of her inner life, she creates life. Creativity is a kind of magic. An author pulls from their inner selves (their imagination, their subconscious, their memories, what they have noticed, other stories they have read) and they put pen to paper or fingers to laptop keys and they start from a blank page or screen and fill them with words that draw the reader in the way stories always have since our ancestors began telling them in caves or around a fire. Stories move beyond facts to truths that can only be expressed in a story, in metaphor, in images. And, as they begin to do this, they toil and doubt themselves and question the validity of what they are doing and, at times, surprise themselves by what they just brought to the page. Something a character says or does. A twist in the tale that is unexpected to even them. Neil Gaiman wrote in A Game of You, "Everybody has a secret world inside of them. I mean everybody. All of the people in the whole world, I mean everybody - no matter how dull and boring they are on the outside. Inside them, they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds . . . Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands, maybe." What is it that sparks something in someone to move past their fears and dare to write about those worlds? What book or author caused a young reader to suddenly imagine, "I want to do this"? For Neil Gaiman, it was reading C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia. For Hayley Chewins it was reading David Almond's amazing novel Skellig. But what moves one from imagining they are a writer to actually sitting down and writing? Of making themselves day after day when no one else will read these words, write them? Hope. As Hayley Chewins' wrote about on her blog: . . . I run on hope. Hope is the petrol I put in my tank. It's what kindles my creative fire. Hope is the thing that keeps me going. (Okay, and coffee). Bottom line is: If I'm not hoping, I'm not working. What do I mean by hoping? I mean that when I'm writing a book, I believe all the good things it is possible to believe about a book. I believe my agent will love it. I believe it will sell. I believe it will find an audience. I believe people will adore it as much as I do. It's not easy. In fact, it's pretty hard to maintain a sense of hope in what sometimes feels like a never-ending maelstrom of Horrible Things. But I do it anyway. Because it's the only thing I can do. And I agree with her. Hope is the only thing that can drive someone to create when so much around them would dissuade and discourage them from doing so. From those voices in one's head that tell one that they are a fake, that they are not any good at creating because creating is for other, more creative people. Hope is also what drives The Turnaway Girls. The hope of Delphernia to be more than she is told that she is. Her story is inventive, thrilling and utterly captivating.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bridgett Brown

    I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. In this book world Girls who turn away from their reflections as infants are trained as “turnaway girls,” growing up separate from the outside world to learn how to turn music into gold. Boys with a talent for music become music-makers and get to choose a turnaway girl for themselves once they become of age. There is no room for differences. Our main girl is a "turnaway Girl" she's supposed to be silent but she loves to sing. This is a Middle School book, I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. In this book world Girls who turn away from their reflections as infants are trained as “turnaway girls,” growing up separate from the outside world to learn how to turn music into gold. Boys with a talent for music become music-makers and get to choose a turnaway girl for themselves once they become of age. There is no room for differences. Our main girl is a "turnaway Girl" she's supposed to be silent but she loves to sing. This is a Middle School book, but was very well written. You almost forget it's for young kids.

  23. 4 out of 5

    USOM

    More like a 3.5 I almost broke down reading some parts of The Turnaway Girls. Seriously. I don't want to ruin this book, and all the tragic and emotional surprises in store. But there was something about it that spoke to me. The way this was so clearly almost dystopic and the way that the society is trying to shape Delphernia into something she isn't. The ways they try to force her into a mold. It's not a discussion and there is no real chance to exist outside it. I read it as a metaphor for the More like a 3.5 I almost broke down reading some parts of The Turnaway Girls. Seriously. I don't want to ruin this book, and all the tragic and emotional surprises in store. But there was something about it that spoke to me. The way this was so clearly almost dystopic and the way that the society is trying to shape Delphernia into something she isn't. The ways they try to force her into a mold. It's not a discussion and there is no real chance to exist outside it. I read it as a metaphor for the suppression of identity. full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kendra

    This book sounds amazing -- I can't wait!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rosemary

    Raised in a shelter cloister with other young women, Delphernia Undersea is a 12-year-old Turnaway Girl: girls raised to be silent, invisible; to weave male Masters' music into gold they call "shimmmer". Delphina is well aware of her place in society - Mother Nine beats it into her regularly enough - but still has a rebellious streak in her. While she can't make shimmer, she can sing; a forbidden action in this world. Girls are told that the sea waits to swallow girls with musical throats, but D Raised in a shelter cloister with other young women, Delphernia Undersea is a 12-year-old Turnaway Girl: girls raised to be silent, invisible; to weave male Masters' music into gold they call "shimmmer". Delphina is well aware of her place in society - Mother Nine beats it into her regularly enough - but still has a rebellious streak in her. While she can't make shimmer, she can sing; a forbidden action in this world. Girls are told that the sea waits to swallow girls with musical throats, but Delphernia must sing, so she does so in secret until the day a young Master named Bly comes to claim her. Once out of the cloister, Delphernia's world opens up, befriending a trans girl named Linna, who calls herself a Master and wears a dress covered in bells. Delphernia spends time with Bly, discovering more about him and his sister, the Childer-Queen, and in so doing, discovers more about herself and the society she moves through. It's time for rebellion, and Delphernia holds the key. Wow. This book is high literary fantasy that has the gift of empowering readers. Delphernia is a strong, intelligent heroine who motivates those around her. This is a male-driven society that doesn't want music, free thought, or questions. They twist the truth to suit their means, but this next generation of children is about to bring it all down. Hayley Chewins' weaves gold - shimmer - with words that nearly brought me to tears as I read. I was Facebooking and texting passages from this book to my friends, family, and coworkers over the last two days, because I could not keep these words inside me. This is how you talk to middle graders. This is how you write middle grade fantasy that makes a statement, always respecting your readers. This is fantasy that holds our society up to a mirror and lets readers see for themselves how change is theirs to make. Diverse and gender fluid characters, discussions about gender roles and corrupt leaders, and a tale of self-discovery, magic, and music put this firmly on my must-read, must-have list, and my Newbery and Hugo watch lists. The Turnaway Girls has a starred review from Kirkus. Author Hayley Chewins has a playlist for the book available on her blog.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Meg

    The kingdom of Blightsend only allows music to be played, not sung. This music is then captured by girls and kneaded into gold. Delphernia lacks this ability and considers herself worthless because of this "deficiency". However, she has a more precious gift--the gift of song. Lyrical and captivating, this book details Delphernia's fight to be true to herself and her gifts. I received this book as part of the Goodreads Giveaway program.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    Turnaway Girls follows the point of view of Delphernia who has been hidden away and told her only purpose is to serve others by turning their music into gold. The problem is, Delphernia has music inside her too which muddles her place in a rigid society. She tries to hide her secret, but someone has already found her out. When she leaves the cloister with a strange young man, can she keep her secret hidden? The strength of this novel lies in Delphernia's narration - she is not quite reliable in Turnaway Girls follows the point of view of Delphernia who has been hidden away and told her only purpose is to serve others by turning their music into gold. The problem is, Delphernia has music inside her too which muddles her place in a rigid society. She tries to hide her secret, but someone has already found her out. When she leaves the cloister with a strange young man, can she keep her secret hidden? The strength of this novel lies in Delphernia's narration - she is not quite reliable in that her worldview has been so limited and manipulated. Being included as a reader in her slow but believable revelations about the world around her provides an earnest perspective and adds an interesting flavor to the story.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Julissa

    This book is one of my favorite reads this month. I loved how whimsical it was, it drew me in completely. It's a rich magical tale of a courageous young girl who doesn't accept her circumstances. Delphernia, is such a brave character who pushes the boundaries of her world by questioning everything that she has been taught. My favorite part was how poetic the writing was, it complemented the musical aspects beautifully. I felt as if the music was flowing from the book and into me. The author has This book is one of my favorite reads this month. I loved how whimsical it was, it drew me in completely. It's a rich magical tale of a courageous young girl who doesn't accept her circumstances. Delphernia, is such a brave character who pushes the boundaries of her world by questioning everything that she has been taught. My favorite part was how poetic the writing was, it complemented the musical aspects beautifully. I felt as if the music was flowing from the book and into me. The author has most certainly made a fan out of me. There was so many quotable parts throughout the book, I had to write them all down. One of the characters (Bly's) even speaks in poems, which made me love it even more. I'm a sucker for poetry in books, it's always a treat for me. The Turnaway Girls, was such a captivating story, I read it in one sitting. I felt my heart beating fast with excitement (which doesn't happen offten) it was like I was in a dream that I never wanted to end. There was even an unexpected plot twist that I did not see coming. This is a story that I know will stay with me forever. It also had such a strong feminist feel to it that I really appreciated. I will be recommending this book to everyone, it is a fast enchanting read. And the story is so well told that readers will be hooked from the very first page. I rate this book 4.60 stars. Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Gregandemy

    Thank you to the publisher and author for giving me a digital copy of this book via netgalley in exchange for my honest review. I had a hard time with this book. I seemed to be missing something and felt several times during the book that I had missed a couple of pages somehow. I kept having the feeling that I was not getting all of the information but I hadn't missed any pages. It wasn't a difficult story to follow, but it didn't flow either. I cant imagine young readers staying interested. The Thank you to the publisher and author for giving me a digital copy of this book via netgalley in exchange for my honest review. I had a hard time with this book. I seemed to be missing something and felt several times during the book that I had missed a couple of pages somehow. I kept having the feeling that I was not getting all of the information but I hadn't missed any pages. It wasn't a difficult story to follow, but it didn't flow either. I cant imagine young readers staying interested. The storyline is based on this pressure and fear but the writing doesn't help us to get a sense of it. It seems rushed, simplified, and missing. I couldn't care much about the characters or what happened. I didn't get the urgency or the tension. I just didn't get this book and wouldn't recommend it to others. It missed the mark for me.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    Beautiful! I was blown away by the gorgeous, lyrical prose. A stunning, empowering novel about finding your voice.

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