cover image The Island at the End of Everything

The Island at the End of Everything

Kiran Millwood Hargrave. Knopf, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-553-53532-7

In 1906, 12-year-old Amihan lives with her mother on the Philippine island of Culion, which would become the largest leper colony in the world. Amihan and her mother share a tranquil life of quiet rituals, cooking fresh seafood, %E2%80%9Ccatching%E2%80%9D falling stars at night, and trying to grow a garden for butterflies. Their small community of the healthy and the afflicted (the term %E2%80%9CTouched%E2%80%9D is preferred to %E2%80%9Cleper%E2%80%9D) live together peacefully until Mr. Zamora, a cruel government official, arrives to segregate the population and send %E2%80%9Cclean%E2%80%9D children to an orphanage on a separate island. Amihan is heartbroken to leave her mother, whose disease is quite advanced, but once at the orphanage, she makes two friends who help her return when she gets word that her mother is dying. Hargrave%E2%80%99s lush, lyrical prose brings the jungle island to life and pulls readers into Amihan%E2%80%99s wrenching journey. Facts about the %E2%80%9CTouched%E2%80%9D contrast with people%E2%80%99s uninformed, fear-driven reactions, in particular those of Mr. Zamora, whose loathing of the afflicted leads to irrational and hateful behavior. A moving look at how prejudice blinds people to the humanity of others. Ages 10-up. Agent: Hellie Ogden, Janklow & Nesbit. (Apr.)