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I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from the publisher in order to write this review.
Elizabeth knows her role in her Mormon community. She helps her mother care for the younger children, and someday soon, her parents will expect her to accept the proposal of a neighbor to become his second wife. Becoming a scientist just isn’t an option, no matter how much she wishes it were.
When her little sister has an accident while Elizabeth is distracted with a science book, Elizabeth is devastated. Blaming herself, she offers to atone by focusing fully on her duties to her family, starting with taking her mother’s place on the long journey from Utah to Wyoming to help her older sister with her pregnancy. But when their train is robbed, Elizabeth winds up on an unexpected journey that brings her into contact with scientists like Thomas Edison–and she finally gets her first glimpse through a telescope. Now that she’s had a taste, will she ever be able to turn her back on the scientific life? And would it really be so bad if she didn’t?
BEYOND THE MAPPED STARS immerses readers in a nineteenth century Morman community, exploring both its strengths and its weaknesses and the ways that its younger members struggle to be true to their community and families’ values while also forming their own personal identities and beliefs. The book features a racially diverse cast and addresses a gay teen’s concerns about homophobia in his town. Given the thematic depth of this book, it would be an excellent choice for book clubs and classrooms. I’d recommend it to fans of character-driven, YA historical fiction.