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 enchantingly brilliant. 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, simply put, poetic. Kiran has a way with words that makes the story unfold beautifully off the pages. And her crafting of her characters is, as always, inspiring. Ami is a complex, brave and kind character but she is not without her flaws. At times Ami could be selfish and angry and say hurtful things in a moment of regret, but this is what I love about her and is also what makes her a role model suitable for today’s children. Like us all, she 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 in moments of catching stars, to whispering in the wind but for me, it is the role of the butterflies that gave this book the underlying magical connection that it needed.
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 close.
Kiran has without a doubt become one of my favourite children authors and I cannot wait to read her next book, The Way Past Winter, out now!
Published by Chicken House.
You can buy the book via Waterstones here.
© 2018 Bluebird Reviews