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The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

"There are some places you would not want to go. Even if I told you that we have oceans filled with sea turtles and dolphins, or forests lush with parrots that call through air thick with warmth... Nobody comes here because they want to. The island of no return."


Kiran Millwood Hargrave has done it again. I absolutely loved The Girl of Ink and Stars (read my review here) and The Island at the End of Everything is just as spectacular.

A beautiful new adventure about courage, friendship and finding your way home, Kiran tells the story of young Ami, who lives with her mother on an island where the sea is as blue as the sky. But the island is home to a colony of lepers, some who are ‘Touched’ with the disease and other who are ‘Untouched’. When a malevolent government official arrives on the island to separate the two, Ami finds herself taken from her mother and banished from the island to an orphanage across the seas. To get back home Ami must endure a journey of love and loss, but will she make it back in time to the island of no return?

Inspired by true events that took place in the Philippians, Kiran tackles a lot of sensitive issues, such as illness, death, discrimination and segregation, but does so gently and with great respect, whilst opening the floor to discussions and questions within children’s literature.

Kiran’s penmanship is lyrically enchanting. Kiran has a way with words that makes the story unfold gracefully off the page. Her character crafting is outstanding. Ami, for example, is a complex, brave and kind character but not without her flaws. At times Ami is selfish and angry and says hurtful things in a moment of regret, but this is what I love about her. It brings to light her innocence and her ignorance, making her a much more relatable character for today's readers. Like us all, Ami is a character who must grow, develop and learn to become her best self and this is thoroughly refreshing to read.

Rich in imagery and magic, Kiran beautifully weaves together striking visuals of catching stars and whispering winds but the colony of butterflies that was so spectacular and special.

This book left me in tears, both sad and happy tears. And although I felt the ending was slightly rushed by jumping ahead thirty years and lacked the same lyrical depth and flow as before, Kiran did a wonderful job of bringing the story to a happy, satisfying close.

Kiran has without a doubt become one of my favourite children authors, each book as beautiful as the next.




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