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The Turnaway Girls

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  264 ratings  ·  105 reviews
Delphernia Undersea wants to sing. But everyone on Blightsend knows music belongs to the Masters — and girls with singing throats are swallowed by the sea.

On the strange, stormy island of Blightsend, twelve-year-old Delphernia Undersea has spent her whole life in the cloister of turnaway girls, hidden from sea and sky by a dome of stone and the laws of the island. Outside,
272 pages
Published October 9th 2018 by Candlewick
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Average rating 3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  264 ratings  ·  105 reviews

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Hannah Greendale
A debut that sings! Chewins introduces both an inventive idea (girls who weave gold from music) and a lyricism rarely found in middle-grade literature (best described as literary fantasy). The advanced diction and complexity of the story make it suitable for upper middle-grade readers (ages 10 to 14), but this book that blazes with sorrow and longing will likely enchant adults, too. Highly recommend to fans of The Girl Who Drank the Moon or anyone who enjoys a brooding tale centered on a girl ...more
Sep 16, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, kindle
A gorgeous cover The Turnaway Girls is a beautiful middle grade book that leads with the message of being your true self.

Thanks to Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review
Whispering Stories
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Book Reviewed by Stacey on

Twelve-year-old Delphernia is a turnaway girl. She lives on Blightsend, a strange little island that seems to be ruled by the sea and lives inside in the cloisters. The job of the turnaway girls is to make gold by turning music into shimmer. They are not allowed to sing or the sea will take them. Deplhernia maybe a turnaway girl but she can’t make shimmer, she also has too many thoughts which annoy her teacher – Mother Nine. Plus, she really
R.M. Romero
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A shining, feminist book as lyrical as the songs the heroine hides away inside of her.
Alice-Elizabeth (marriedtobooks)
I won a copy of the book in a Twitter giveaway via the publishers!

BIG NEWS- I'm running an international giveaway on Instagram, head over to this link for more details!:

T/W- Bullying, Abusive character

What a haunting debut novel from Hayley. This middle-grade story follows young Delphernia who lives on a strange island called Blightsend and is known as a 'turnaway girl.' There are other girls known as this and their role, is to create gold with the power
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It is a rare thing indeed to find an author with as much command of language as Hayley Chewins. I was so floored reading this that I gasped out loud and hugged the book--I RARELY EVER HUG THE BOOK. But the imagination, the language, the poetry of the words and story, it all came together so perfectly I fell right into the cloister with Delphernia, who was such a joy. This is a story for anyone who's been pushed down and fought tooth and nail to rise. A book-friend for anyone yearning to sing, ...more
Joanna Meyer
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-tbr
This lovely book is filled with music, music, music. It brims with it. It sings. I could get lost in the rhythm of the prose and live there forever. Simply gorgeous. ...more
Kester Grant
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I devoured Turnaway Girls in one sitting, Chewins paints a lyrical magical world in the style of Laini Taylor, this is a completely original fairy tale by a stunning new talent.
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first thing that I noticed while reading The Turnaway Girls is how poetic every sentence flows into the next , which made a delightful unusual fictional read. I would never have thought that this was Hayley Chewins first novel. After I read the whole book I then read about Hayley Chewins who is actually a published poet. Part of the book has the title The Cloisters where nothing grows except for lung moss and half-dead tongue-fruit trees that don't sprout petals. You can't leave the cloister ...more
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a stunning book. The language is poetic, thoughtful, sparse, but so carefully crafted and emotive. Reading the entire book felt like being in the best kind of dream - where anything could happen, and you never want it to end. I would read anything by this author. What a command of language! I was really blown away by this book. I hope that everyone who reads it - young and old, is as inspired as I was - to speak up, to use my voice, to never surrender my dreams. Stunning.
Alyssa Nelson
*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

What an absolutely magical, heartfelt, wonderful story. I can’t begin to describe how wonderful this book is. Even as an adult, this story is so much and if I’d read it fifteen years ago, it easily would have been a favorite. I wasn’t sure how weird this was going to be, because the description is a bit strange, but it is absolutely wonderful and if you like fantasy at all, definitely give
Karlita | Tale Out Loud
I'm so excited to read this book! But for now, I'm hype to share the interview I did with Hayley Chewins where she talks about how everyone who has been bullied can relate to Delphernia Undersea’s character. Read more here:
Alex (PaperbackPiano)
This delightfully feminist middle grade book was a great start to 2019. The prose is really quite lovely and the author uses metaphors masterfully to create vivid descriptions. The repetition of various motifs lend this book a quiet strength that I found really quite moving at times.

This book does require a large degree of suspension of disbelief at first but once you get into the flow of things, it becomes easier. The musical subject matter is a joy (is anyone really surprised that I loved
Katie Clark
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was lucky enough to read an early draft of this book and can't express how special it is. Hayley Chewins writes with an elegance and complete surrender to fantasy that I go looking for in books by Laini Taylor and Kiran Milwood Hargrave. There is something extremely beautiful about when a writer opens up their soul and it pours onto the page into words with mystical lyricism that create images of liquid gold. This is a book about remaining true to who you are even if everyone around you is ...more
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some books, like a fine wine, need to be savoured. This fantasy middle grade debut coming out in October is one of those books. Reading THE TURNAWAY GIRLS transports you to a place you’ve never been, full of rich language and images that feel so unlike your own world. It’s deep, dark and beautiful, and you should keep it on your radar.
Rachel Solomon
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
As a child, I devoured fairy tales. The worlds were magical, but they also showed me the reality that there was both good and bad, lightness and darkness in the world. Fairy tales did not sugar coat the violence nor the importance of our choices. The older I got, the more I continued to read books that reminded me of those first fairy tales I loved. Fantastic and magical worlds created by E. Nesbitt, George MacDonald, Lewis Carroll, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Diana Wynne Jones, and Ursula K. Le ...more
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-favourites
What a beautiful book that explores empowerment, acceptance and the music and voice of the individual’s life. I especially love how the narrative sings; the writing is poetic and musical, and if you are a fan of Edgar Allan Poe’s sense of musicality, you will be mesmerised by the sound of this fantastic and fantastical gem. I will highly recommend this debut to those who need to rekindle their passions, hopes and dreams. The author has definitely written her heart out. I have felt it through the ...more
Melanie Sumrow
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most lyrical middle grade novels I’ve ever read—each word has been chosen with purpose and the result is astonishing! I love how Delphernia stands up against the expectations of her in a very rigid society that has already decided her place. She is strong, but not without self-doubt, making her an endearing character.
Amelinda Bérubé
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book's lilting, musical, magical prose will pull you right into Delphernia's world until you can practically taste the sea air and feel the stone walls closing in. A beautiful reminder to any reader that they can use their voice to change the world.
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Musical, breathtaking empowering, feminist message...I loved every word!
Faith Rivens
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-of-2018
This MG novel flows with a rich music rooted deeply in its main character, Delphernia Undersea. She is one of the Turnaway Girls expected to make gold from music but she has never been able to. Instead she must hide her voice and her ability to make life with it or risk being thrown in the sea.

This book sings of finding yourself, rebellion, friendship, courage... It breathes such a unique world with unforgettable characters. This is one of my favourite reads this year and highly recommend you
Aug 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs-ahoy, 2018
I'm a sucker for a book that twists language into something lyrical and magical. The Turnaway Girls does just that as it sets up a world where making shimmer/gold from music is not only possible, but something destined from birth.

Delphernia Undersea is a turnaway girl who can't do any of the things turnaway girls are meant to do. She can't make shimmer, she can't stop asking questions or thinking for herself, and she can't help but sing. Only when she's alone with her birds, though, because
Kristi Housman Confessions of a YA Reader
I wasn't sure what to think of this book, but once I got halfway through, I really started liking it a lot.

Delphernia is a turnaway girl. She is being raised with the other turnaway girls by Mother Nine. Mother Nine is extremely abusive (trigger warning). The turnaway girls make shimmer (gold) when they hear music, but Delphernia can't make it. She would prefer to sing, but girls who sing are taken by the sea.

The Masters come to take away some of the girls. They play music and the girls make
Diane Magras
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a powerful fable about girls who are forced to use their voices to produce gold for their rulers' wealth, as well as a girl whose voice can create more than gold: She breathes souls into stone. Never direct but beautifully subtle, this story weaves a dramatic plot of escape and survival with a sensitive, mysterious protagonist fighting against what she's always been told against the background of legends: Most of a sea hungry for those who sing.
Sophie Cameron
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Set in a world where masters play music and girls spin it into gold, this is a brilliantly original story: lyrical and mystical and so beautifully written, with a strong protagonist and an empowering message. Hayley Chewins is a phenomenal writer, and this is definitely one to watch.
Shelby M. (Read and Find Out)
Trigger warnings: Child abuse, queerphobia

4.5 stars! My Video Review
Blog Post:

2.5/5 Stars

*I was provided with an ARC of this book through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest opinion.

Oh dear, I nearly didn’t finish this, but I really try not to do that, even with books I’ve brought myself. But I really just felt like I didn’t have it in me to finish this book, for the life of me, I just couldn’t get into it. The very first paragraph had me so excited as I could tell that the author was someone who searches for the most
Mar 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Let's just stop a moment for some cover appreciation, because that cover is just beautiful. And totally fitting for this book - a book filled with girls weaving music into gold. This is a book I would title as a book with moral intention; a deliberate need to teach readers to strive to be good, to dig deep, to want more for themselves and for others. Power to Hayley Chewins for advocating for that in young readers.

Delphernia lives on an island ruled by the sea, where children lose part of their
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, 2018
“I’m a turnaway girl and so I know: music belongs to the Masters.”

Delphernia lives in the Cloister where Mother Nine tries to get her to make shimmer, turn music into gold, like the other Turnaway girls. One day Delphernia is given the opportunity to leave the Cloister for the outside world but it’s not everything she was expecting.

I really enjoyed this book, it’s a dark and feminist fairy tale that grips you from the beginning. The writing was beautiful, lyrical and poetic much like Tahereh
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Hayley Chewins grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, in a house so full of books that she learnt to read by accident. The second eldest of four daughters, she sang incessantly as a child. So incessantly, in fact, that she was sent to lessons twice a week in the interests of household peace. Hayley studied classical voice for a year before switching to a degree in English Literature and Italian. She ...more