Have you ever wished to be a whaler, but your parents would not let you because: you are not a boy, the sea is no place for a lady, every girl wants to get married and be a doting mother? Besides, the land is safer than the sea for a lady, right? Wrong. At least, that was Oona Britt’s answer in The Girl Who Sailed The Stars by Matilda Woods.
Ten years before in Nordlor, a town made solely of salvaged ships, a respected fortune teller predicted that Captain Britt would be the proud father of a brave and bold son. However, when the big day came, Oona was born. To her parents’ dismay, she was most definitely not a boy.
As the seventh ‘disappointing’ daughter of talented whaler Captain Britt, Oona was constantly belittled and insulted both to her face and behind her back. The final straw was when her mother decided to find a wealthy prince to marry all of her daughters to. Oona, in an act of desperation, stowed away on her father’s ship to escape the arranged marriage.
The Girl Who Sailed The Stars is part of the magical realism genre. It would be realistic fiction if it didn’t have a couple of mythical creatures here and there, although the way Woods writes about them makes it seem like they could almost be real.
Woods makes Oona seem like a real complex individual, with hopes, dreams and a striking imagination. From the selfish and apathetic fortune teller to Oona’s cold-hearted family, Woods’ exceptional storytelling brings these characters to life. For example, you can feel Oona’s horror at being shipped off to the South and marrying some random prince just so her mother can become a queen. Also, every building in the town of Nordlor rocks all the time because they are salvaged ships; the author describes the movement in such a way, it makes you almost feel nauseous.
We all might grow as people at least a little by stowing away on a ship, however Oona really rises to the occasion and matures a lot because of it. I wish the author provided more description for the characters, such as the way they looked and dressed. I would rate this book a nine out of ten and recommend it for ages 8 and up.