The Island at the End of Everything

Written by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Review by Elizabeth Hawksley Freya Sutcliffe

1902, Culion Island, the Philippines, once a leper colony. When twelve-year-old Ami, whose mother has leprosy, learns that a new Government ruling has decided that all uninfected children, like Ami, must leave the beautiful island of Culion, with its butterflies, for an orphanage on another island, Coron, she is devastated. The cruel Mr Zamora oversees the evacuation with a complete lack of sympathy for the children’s distress.

]Ami hates the Coron orphanage. Mr Zamora’s regimen is strict, and the other children are unfriendly, and she’s desperately worried about her mother. Then she meets Mariposa, a girl with a different medical problem, and they become friends. Could they escape Coron together? They will need strength and determination if they are to succeed in their quest.

There’s a damaged small boat nearby…

This book is about fighting for a world where people are accepted for who they are, even if they are ‘different’. Ami and Mari are discounted because they are only children and girls, who must do as they are told. But what if what they are told to do is wrong?

I found this book both thought-provoking and moving. It’s beautifully written, too, and it certainly packs an emotional punch.

–Elizabeth Hawksley

In spite of The Island at the End of Everything having the interesting and unusual main subject of leprosy, I felt that, in places, it wasn’t difficult to guess how the story line would develop. There were times when I wasn’t totally gripped, but it did get more exciting towards the end—I liked the 30-year time-jump and the coincidental reunion of old friends. The story explores many contrasting emotions and characters and gives insights into the leper colony—and the disparity between what it was really like and what many people outside the colony believed it was like.

Freya Sutcliffe, age 14