Dairman, Tara

The Girl from Earth's End

(2) 4-6 Raised by her two papas on a remote island (the setting is loosely based on the Azores), Henna has a gift for plants, so when she learns her papa Niall has incurable cancer, she vows to save him using her plant knowledge. Tales of a nearly extinct specimen with miraculous healing powers, the nightwalker, send her off-island to St. Basil's, the botanical secondary school where a nightwalker seed is rumored to be stored in a secret repository. Henna and another student who calls themself P are both admitted on scholarship, with the requirement that they act in service to fellow new student Lora, the wheelchair-using daughter of the exorbitantly wealthy Windover family. At first standoffish, Lora confides her desire to do more things for herself and later provides help when Henna and P's efforts to find the seed land them in trouble. Issues of disability accessibility, gender identity, and grief and loss figure heavily, yet naturally, in the intertwined storylines. Dairman evokes a Victorian plant-hunter aesthetic while skirting the border of fantasy (the nightwalker is described in magical terms as able to "walk" up the trunk of its host plant, the orange tree), although the affecting ending lands the book squarely in realism. Readers intrigued by the wonders of the natural world will find a kindred spirit in Henna, whose determination and unwavering love for her papas propel this story to its dynamic conclusion.


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