The Island At The End of Everything: heartbreaking, touching and inspiring.
“Amihan lives on Culion Island, where some of the inhabitants – including her mother – have leprosy. Ami loves her home – with its blue seas and lush forests, Culion is all she has ever known. But the arrival of malicious government official Mr Zamora changes her world forever: islanders untouched by sickness are forced to leave. Banished across the sea, she’s desperate to return, and finds a strange and fragile hope in a colony of butterflies. Can they lead her home before it’s too late?”
Written by the incredible Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize winner Kiran Millwood Hargrave, The Island At The End of Everything is everything I was missing since reading The Girl of Ink and Stars. (See: Bookblog: Kiran Milwood-Hargrave for my feelings on The Giel of Ink and Stars, in whcih I do it no justice at all. It’s incredible though, believe me. Please buy it).
The Island at the End of Everything (I’ll call it The Island in this blog for brevity) is an incredible tale about strength, bravery and overcoming evil. It’s a tale of a young girl called Ami who lives on an island where “touched” people live – the touched are those who are sick. The touched live along those who are healthy quite happily, until one day. One day Mr Zamora comes along and he wants to change all of that. The book tells the tale of Ami’s journey away from her home, her mother, her friends, her island family and what happens when she is released into the “safe” and “clean” world. The story captured my imagination so brilliantly. The butterfly metaphor was so important to the story. Ami and Mr Zamora may not have gotten along but she respects his brilliance.
I loved Ami. She was ballsy. She loves her mother. She’s loyal. She’s adventurous but doubting. She’s unsure but determined. She makes mistakes. She definitely has a mind of her own. She’s shy, timid but at other times brazen. Ami at the end of the book is the Ami that I wanted. Her Nanay (her mother) filled my heart with such joy. Their relationship spoke to me. Nanay is brave, realistic and reasonable. She’s what you expect of a mother. She wants the best for Ami. She knows that it’s not going to be easy, but she wants the best life for her daughter. I despised Mr Zamora. I felt sorry for him. I wanted to punch him. He has a terrible attitude to the children and the residents of Culion. He is pretty mean. He’s troubled by his own mind and his own obsessions. He’s one of those incredibly necessary but horrid evils that incredible books have.
The way this is book is written is so exquisite. There are some absolutely majestic descriptive passages. You feel like you’re in the book: alongside Ami, fighting along with her, making mistakes with her. I got lost in the world of Ami. I devoured the words, the pages, the descriptions in a few hours. Much like The Girl of Ink and Stars, you want to know what is coming next. It’s enthralling, captures your attention and stunning.
This is going to be one of those books I will have as a staple for teaching. It hits on so many important subjects: segregation (I’ve only read a little bit with my Y4 kids and we have talked, debated and discussed the segregation issue in this book), friendship, right and wrong, death. Every KS2 classroom should have a copy of this. All teachers need to read this, all libraries need this. Kids need to be able to access incredible literature like this. It’s one of those special books that kids need. I know if I was a kid today I would be DYING to get my hands on this. So please, teachers, go out and read this (while you’re at it, read GOIAS too!) and then pass it on to your kids if you can.
Thank you so much Jazz at Chicken House for sending me a copy of this!
Have you read this?
Let me know in the comments below. I need to talk about this book!