Title: Girl Haven
Author: Lilah Sturges, Meaghan Carter (illustrator)
Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Oni Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: February 16, 2021
When seventh-grader Ash, his crush Eleanor, and their friends are transported to a girls-only imaginary world, Ash must come to terms with the fact that he may actually be a transgender girl. Full of wonder, humor, and heart, Girl Haven is the newest original story from the author of Lumberjanes.
Three years ago, Ash’s mom, Kristin, left home and never came back. Now, Ash lives in the house where Kristin grew up. All of her things are there. Her old room, her old clothes, and the shed, where she spent her childhood creating a fantasy world called Koretris.
Ash knows all about Koretris: how it’s a haven for girls, with no men or boys allowed, and filled with fanciful landscapes and creatures. When Ash’s friends decide to try going to Koretris, using one of Kristin’s spellbooks, Ash doesn’t think anything will happen. But the spell works, and Ash discovers that the world Kristin created is actually a real place, with real inhabitants and very real danger.
But if Koretris is real, why is Ash there? Everyone has always called Ash a boy. Ash uses he/him pronouns. Shouldn’t the spell have kept Ash out? And what does it mean if it let Ash in?
Seventh-grader Ash joins the Pride club at school. The club consists of friends Eleanor, Chloe, and Junebug. After the club meeting, Ash invites his new friends to his house to show them his mom’s art. His mom created a world called Koretris in her art and stories when she was a child. Koretris is a world filled with talking rabbits, where only girls exist. His mom disappeared years ago. Ash and his friends recite a spell from the spell book she created, which transports them to Koretris. Since boys aren’t allowed in Koretris, Ash questions whether he is meant to be a boy or a girl while also searching for his mom in this fantasy world.
This was a fun fantasy story. It’s a common storyline to be transported into a fantasy world, such as Narnia or Wonderland. I would have loved to go into the worlds of my favourite novels as a kid, so I think this story is relateable.
This story also explored what it means to be a boy or a girl. Ash had always felt more like a girl, but since everyone said that he was a boy, he figured he must be a boy. He really began to question it when he was transported to the world that was only meant for girls. This shows readers that it’s okay to question your feelings and figure out who you really are, not who others say you have to be.
I loved this middle grade graphic novel!
Thank you Oni Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Have you read Girl Haven? What did you think of it?