What thrilled me reading this story was the range of the premise and the extent of the the kick-ass protagonist’s character arc. In 2788, because her immune system can’t survive anywhere other than Earth, 17 year old Jarra’s particular prison is the whole dang planet, and her cultural prison is the new bigotry that has arisen ever since the portal allowed humans, except the one in a thousand like Jarra, to live on any of a multitude of settled planets. So Jarra’s struggle to stretch and be accepted as a full human being starts out with a tremendous potential scope, which immediately stretches the reader.
Jarra’s standing up to cultural intolerance and prejudice is played out against a panoramic background of everyday interstellar travel. When Jarra secretly joins a class of norms from many different human cultures, who are on earth for history studies that include excavating New York City, the contemporary reader is catapulted into Jarra’s time with the anchor of a familiar place made strange. Fascinating archeology, eye-opening treatment of disability, a marvelous shero, and omg, not a dystopia, thank you Janet Edwards. This is speculative fiction as I love it, offering a story that compels, in a universe I have never before imagined.