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This is my post during the blog tour for Helipads in Heaven by Shanti Hershenson.

In Helipaps in Heaven famous author Dillon Hershkop gets enlisted as the test subject for an experimental time travel endeavor. She must confront her past trauma in order to gauge inspiration for a new bestseller.

This blog tour is organized by Lola's Blog Tours and the tour runs from 27 November till 17 December. You can see the tour schedule here.


Helipads in Heaven book cover

Helipads in Heaven
By Shanti Hershenson
Genre: Time Travel/ Contemporary
Age category: Young Adult
Release Date: 15 October, 2023

Blurb:
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 CaƱada—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.


Links:
- Amazon


Excerpt

If you knew her, you’d know that Goose was the most interesting character Valley Park Preparatory School had the misfortune of meeting. She was the girl who halted during physical education classes to stare skyward at helicopters, hawks—anything to float her mind away from the reality she lived in. She was the girl who scribbled routinely in her notebooks and in the crevices of her math assignments, who wore an eccentric bomber jacket decorated with patches even when the weather was too warm, but most of all, whether her teachers considered it to be something so precious or not, she was the girl who dared to dream.

Goose daydreamed her way through elementary school, from the moments in which she’d imagine the protagonists of Star Wars whisking her off to a galaxy far, far away to the ones where she’d imagine a future she barely believed in: a dazzling career, fans who would support her better than her classmates ever did, and to one day witness the scribbles she’d escaped with on the shelves of a bookstore, on billboards and the big screen—everywhere. But these were very grown-up dreams, as her fourth-grade teacher, Ms. Vincent, would say, and as a handful of her classmates would tell her, stupid and impossible. Not once did Goose listen, of course.

She never meant any harm with her scribbles or her lack of attention—she only did so to get through the day in its entirety. Besides, there weren’t many things more beautiful than a world at the hands of her imagination. Goose did all right in school and excelled in the classes she loved most, even managing acceptable grades in math. But in a preparatory school at the foot of the Los Angeles hills, the city of angels and movie stars and a soon-to-be subject of a time-traveling breakthrough twenty years in the future, these expectations were always unreachable.

One time, Goose had an idea better than all of the others (which she believed each time she began a new project) and dedicated much of her time to perfecting the action scenes and the plot twist endings and magical details that a ten-year-old like herself would focus on. During a math lesson on a concept she simply could not grasp no matter how hard she tried, she wrote furiously on a blank sheet of paper, illustrating her characters and their actions, accompanying them with exciting words and genuine enthusiasm. Between taking notes on long division and glancing up to make certain she did not fall too far behind in Ms. Vincent’s monotonous lesson, Goose wrote about her talking animals with elemental powers and an ordinary girl who looked a bit too much like herself to be a coincidence. The scene she was writing would otherwise be known as the most challenging part of the story—the end—but at last, the scribble was complete. Goose understood the story dwelling within her mind. 

“Gotcha!” she exclaimed, etching in a final sentence, the best of all: THE END.

Unfortunately for Goose, the word had slipped out before she’d gotten the chance to think, and in turn, attracted the wrong kind of attention.

Ms. Vincent, who had been writing equations and sample problems on the whiteboard for her students to then copy into their notebooks and memorize, caught wind of Goose’s doing. The two made eye contact. The dread crept in at once.

“As we learn the principles of long division, class, it is important that we pay the highest amount of attention we possibly can,” Ms. Vincent addressed the whole class, but the gaze she held rested on Goose and Goose alone. “That means making sure we are not distracted by…anything else.”

It wasn’t even a few seconds until the rest of the class was staring, and Goose figured by now that there wasn’t an escape from what was to come. As much as Ms. Vincent spoke to and scolded everyone, the fingers would always point at her.

The matter grew worse when Ms. Vincent furrowed her brow and mumbled, “Dillon…” That was Goose’s real name, Dillon, and while she didn’t hate it, she found comfort in the name Goose. It was formerly her nickname as a toddler and young child, one that her parents fondly used. A friend of hers overheard it once and decided to use it. Despite the fact that she was growing out of it, the name stuck like glue. Not to mention, she really did love birds. 

There were birds in the story she had previously finished, too—hawks and falcons, which were her favorites, and even a few geese to add to the equation. Fearing that the pages were about to be confiscated, that the teasing from her classmates would get worse, and that Ms. Vincent would shout at her again, Goose brushed her arm over the table and swept the pieces of bound paper off of her desk. They landed in a heap in her backpack, the sound having the opposite effect as it only drew more attention in her direction.

“Yes, Ms. Vincent?” she replied after a tense moment of silence. 

Stalking from the whiteboard to the location on the left side of the classroom in which Goose’s desk was, she crouched down as if to be at eye-level with her. “I’ve been a teacher for a long time and, well,” she reminded her, “I know just about every trick in the book.” 

“Yeah?”

A smile tugged at Ms. Vincent’s lips. “If it’s so important, show me your little creation.”

“My what?” Goose furrowed her brow, though she of course knew exactly what her teacher was referring to—the work to which she’d caught on—and there was no hiding anymore.

Ms. Vincent pointed in the direction of Goose’s backpack, where several papers spilled from its opened mouth. “You know.” 

Slowly and without much of a choice, Goose retrieved each and every paper she’d been scribbling on from her backpack, placing them side by side with her notes detailing long division. “You want me to share them?” she asked, perhaps too eagerly. There was still a spark of hope inside her, like somehow, this interaction would go differently than the others did—that for once, despite the actuality that Ms. Vincent never picked her to share her writing-related work or otherwise, this was a redeemable chance.

This assumption was furthered when Goose received a nod in response.

“It’s a book I’ve been working on, about my cat, Strider, with—” 

“Now, Dillon, in the future, let’s remember to save your daydreams for outside of school,” Ms. Vincent stopped her from continuing, raising faint laughter from the rest of the class. “I’m impressed that you aspire to try and write a novel one day, but for now, let’s remain in the real world, okay?”

“The real world?” Goose scrunched up her nose at the comment. “I’m not playing make-believe, Miss. I’m serious.” 

“You’re creative, sure, but also disrupting my lesson.” Ms. Vincent did not need to follow up with that particular sentence, for just the phrase alone was enough to glaze tears over the edges of Goose’s eyes. “Please see me after class.” 

She could feel the glares of her classmates. They flared up her cheeks and caused each and every hair on the base of her neck to prickle and stand. This was humiliating—beyond humiliating. Goose felt almost on display for everyone to see and point at, the class laughingstock. She was trapped in a glass cage like a creature to be gawked at, and right then, wanted no more than to faint and be sent home. Goose always wanted to pass out in scenarios as embarrassing as these—just like the time when she had dropped her computer in front of the class and had broken it, or just like the time her physical education teacher yelled at her for tracking mud into the classroom.

Alas, Goose could not pass out.

Ms. Vincent stalked back to her position at the front of the classroom. Even in the absence of her attention toward Goose, this was not the end of the punishment.

“Gonna cry, Dillon?” a boy named Davis Cartman teased.

Davis and Goose had begun as friends in the third grade—Goose’s first year at Valley Park Preparatory School—but as the year went by and fourth grade commenced, he turned sour. This was the same with Ashton and Katie and many other classmates Goose once found herself friends with.

Filling her lungs with a trembling breath, Goose answered, “I’m not.”

Davis ignored the remark, eyes wandering around his audience of staring, laughing peers. “I think Dillon’s about to cry, guys! Can you believe it? What a crybaby!” 

“Crybaby!” someone else shouted, presumably Ashton. 

Goose bit her lip as if it would do anything to prevent the embarrassment from surfacing in the form of a sob. “It’s Goose—” 

“I’m sorry, Goose.” Davis sneered. “I hate to break your bubble, but Ms. Vincent is right: You’re too dull-headed. I think it’s time to retire your dreams and pay attention like the rest of us.”

Goose’s head jerked in the direction of Ms. Vincent, and she called her name in hopes that she would hear what Davis was saying and correct him. She wanted Ms. Vincent to insist that she was not telling Goose to give up her dreams or that she was at all stupid. She did not.

Instead, Ms. Vincent shot only a single glance over and plainly shook her head. The laughing, the teasing, and everything else, persisted. 

Goose leaned back into her chair and defeatedly wiped away her tears. 

This was it—she was sure of it. She would never write again.

If that was the case, of course, Valley Park Preparatory School would’ve never been misfortuned to meet her. As unforgettable as she was, her memory would’ve been left in the dust if it was not for one simple fact. 

Sooner than she would have imagined, Goose would prove each and every fool who’d dared to doubt her wrong, because each and every dream she used as a beacon of hope to wade through her days, little by little, came true.



About the Author:
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:



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