Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Today's read... Helipads in Heaven by Shanti Hershenson

 Today's read comes from a young author (15), who has already published more than a few reads and has already caused a buzz. This is her latest release, a time travel novel, which promises more 'heart' than action...which may or may not be my thing. In any case, it's a short read at around 170  pages, so I'm looking forward to see how it goes.

Helipads in Heaven book cover

by Shanti Hershenson
YA Time Travel/ Contemporary

World-renowned author Dillon Hershkop has everything she wants in life, but getting there hasn’t been easy. Now thirty years old, she has achieved almost everything she dreamed of as a young girl: A dazzling career, a devoted fan base, and a picture-perfect family—but despite all of this, she is also painstakingly bored.

That is why, when Dillon receives the opportunity to become the test subject for a time-traveling experiment hosted by JPL’s brand new Center for Experimental Science, she seizes the opportunity to explore La Cañada—and the places she grew up around—without any immediate reservations. In exchange, she can write a brand new memoir both about time travel and the nearly forgotten experiences that shaped her into the talented woman she is today. That is, if she returns.

Dillon is soon thrown head-first as an adult spectator into the complicated world of her ten-year-old self—fondly nicknamed Goose—from her love of helicopters, writing, and all things Elton John, to her unreceptive fourth-grade teacher, Ms. Vincent, her sourly judgemental classmates, and the missed opportunities of a fourth-grade writer with a smothered voice.

As she observes the childhood she does not entirely remember, she begins to realize that there are reasons for the holes in her memories—things she must not remember, because if she does, it may become impossible to stand back and watch the oil of her bottled-up trauma be poured into a fire from a distance. And if she goes against the direct orders of the laboratory, the effects of tampering with a nearly unknown science may permanently disrupt the fabrics of time, space, and Dillon’s existence.

From the teenage author of You Won’t Know Her Name, Helipads in Heaven is a deep and heartwarming adventure of time travel, childhood ambitions, and at the core, a love letter to unique children and those who dare to dream.

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A touching tale of reconnecting with memories and realizing the truth.

Dillon (aka Goose, as a child) might have been misunderstood as a kid, who tended to day dream and was lost in imagination's stories, but now, at thirty-years-old, she's become a famous author and household name. Her life has been blessed, but boredom leads her to accept the chance to be the first person to experience the newest technological wonder—time travel. After signing tons of waivers and stifling her doubt, she heads off to her time of choice—her childhood. There she wants to observe her younger self. She knows she can't get directly involved or it will cause problems. But sometimes, emotions tend to overpower practical reasoning.

This is a beautifully written read, which steers straight into emotions, memories, and the heart. The prologue and first chapter let both Dillons come across just enough for the reader to get a grip on their situations and personalities. So, when the older Dillon is thrust through time (very simply and nicely done), the situations of both characters (older and younger) is already set. Goose, the younger Dillon, is kind and misunderstood, which also means there is more than a little bullying involved. It's easy to sympathize with her and understand the older Dillon's feelings and thoughts as things unfold. It's a well-played balance between the two, which invites to understanding as well as realizations.

There are many wholesome and wise messages in these pages, and these hold depth and maturity. It's a character driven read, carrying plenty of emotions and depth. At times, it does have a slightly slower pacing because of this (I tend to be more of an 'action' girl), but it flows smoothly from beginning to end. The length is perfect for the read and makes it an easy one to dive into and enjoy. I would recommend it, however, to slightly older readers than the YA audience (although I have no doubt that there are readers in this age group who will enjoy it too) simply due to older Dillon's perspectives. While readers learn from Goose and root for her as well, it's the older Dillon, who experiences the true character arc. 

In any case, it's impossible to guess the age of the author when reading this. The heart, emotions, and messages carry a depth and maturity way beyond her age. It is going to be a treat to see where she goes from here.

And here she is...

Shanti Hershenson author picture

Shanti Hershenson's first two novellas were published when she was in the sixth grade, although her writing journey started long before then. Ever since she could hold a pencil, marker, or crayon, she was creating stories. They started from pictures, mere scribbles, and eventually, turned into captivating tales.

Author links:
- Website
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