The Island At The End Of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Publisher: Chicken House
Release Date: May 4, 2017
Summary: Ami lives with her mother on an island where the sea is as blue as the sky. It’s all she knows and loves, but the arrival of malicious government official Mr Zamora changes her world forever: her island is to be made into a colony for lepers. Taken from her mother and banished across the sea, Ami faces an uncertain future in an orphanage. There she meets a honey-eyed girl named for butterflies, and together they discover a secret that will lead her on an adventure home. Ami must go back to the island of no return, but will she make it in time?
My Rating:★★★★☆ ½
My Thoughts: The Island At The End Of Everything is a captivating tale of adventure and courage, with such lyrical writing and messages of hope, this novel also heavily discusses themes of family and friendship.
I adored Kiran’s debut The Girl Of Ink And Stars and was eager to read her next book.
Along the similar lines of her previous novel, Hargrave uses a poetic and lyrical 1st person narrative as her stories follows young women on journeys of friendship, family, and finding their way home.
What made this novel different from her previous one, was that it was based more on history than just fantasy.
Set in the early 1900’s Philippines, we follow Ami as she lives her life on the beautiful Culion Island with her mother. However, many of the people who live there have leprosy.
When government official Mr. Zamora arrives, her world is changed forever. Not having leprosy herself, she is forced to leave her mother and her home to Coron Island, where she will live in an orphanage with other people not having leprosy, to avoid getting it herself.
What I love about Hargrave’s writing style so much is that each sentence brings the story, characters, the lush setting of the Philippines, everything to life. Its lyrical and beautiful. As you read The Island At The End Of Everything, you can tell each sentence is put there for a reason and from the beginning to the very end, you’ll be in awe at how the story comes together through the writing!
I’d never read a novel set in the Philippines before or one that discussed this part of history. I’d never heard about this leprosy outbreak until I’d read about it in this novel, but I’m glad a novel like this exists for middle grade readers to learn about it.
Reading from Ami’s POV gave so much depth to this novel, not only to bring the setting to life, but also the characters. From her mother, to her local neighbors like Bondoc, Capuno, the Sisters, Mari, every single character felt so real!
Ami is heartbroken to be leaving her home and mother behind. However, when she reaches Coron, she finds solace with her new friend Mari. Ami was so brave and just reading from her POV was so empowering, reading about her journey to get back home and see her mother again.
Additionally, this novel is very diverse! Almost all of the cast of characters are Filipino + Mari is shown to have a disability (withe her hand) with her hand and Hargrave discusses it with so much care.
The 2 develop a beautiful friendship and over the course of the story, Mari becomes a very central character + such an important friend that Ami is grateful to have.
What I love about Hargrave’s novels, is the emphasis she puts on family, friendship and independence. Those themes are present all throughout this novel.
While Hargrave’s novels are marketed as middle grade, they are novels that can honestly speak so much to readers of any genre. Her novels have messages that anyone can relate to (Understanding who you are, discovering friendship, and the emphasis and importance of family).
My only issue is that the epilogue did feel rushed and I did find the pacing to be slow towards the middle.
Aside from that…
The Island At The End Of Everything is a tale of friendship, family, and finding your way home. Hargrave’s writing is captivating, bringing the setting and characters to life as we follow Ami and her journey to find her way back home! Highly recommend this novel!