Every time I met up with teachers last year, someone was raving about The Girl of Ink and Stars. It wasn’t long until I was waxing lyrical about it too. It is one of the best debut novels I have read, so it goes without saying The Island At The End of Everything had a tough act to follow. If I’m honest, I didn’t think it would top The Girl of Ink and Stars . . . how wrong was I?
Ami has lived on Culion with her mother all of her life. It is a beautiful island surrounded by blue seas and full of lush greenery, yet no-one goes there of their own accord. Culion is the leper colony. Life is peaceful, but things take a turn for the worse as government official Mr Zamora arrives on the island. Before long, Ami and other children are separated from their parents and shipped off to an orphanage on another island.
As with The Girl Of Ink and Stars, the narrative is immaculately written in an accessible manner. At its heart is layer upon layer of exquisite description. On almost every page I found myself finding examples to share with budding writers in my class. With this quality of writing you can’t help but be sucked in.
One of the great features of this book is its authenticity. Culion was a real leper colony and the echoes of its history can be seen throughout the novel. The skill of a talented author is to be able to weave believable characters in a historical setting. Kiran Millwood Hargrave does this effortlessly.
The Island At The End of Everything is packed with big issues; separation, prejudice, friendship, forgiveness, courage – the list is endless. A child reader will have their eyes opened and their minds expanded. The older reader will be blown away by the layers of emotion that are built up throughout.
I found the book in the Young Adult section of the local library; however, what makes this book brilliant is the way it transcends age categories. It could just as easily sit in middle grade fiction as it could in adult fiction. If I wasn’t sure of it before reading The Island At The End of Everything, I can safely say Kiran Millwood Hargrave is one of the most talented children’s authors of recent times. This is a must read.
Age Recommendation: 10+
Publisher: Chicken House