After the roaring success of of Kiran’s first novel (The Girl of Ink and Stars, overall winner of the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize 2017), I was eagerly anticipating the release of her next one. Fortunately, due to her well-deserved award win, the publication date was pushed forward and I was able to get my hands on a copy to enjoy over the Easter holidays.
Set on an isolated and remote island in The Philippines, this gripping story follows the life of Ami, who must live on Culion Island with her sick mother. Hers is an island of blue skies and tropical wonders, seemingly a paradise and the only home she’s ever known.
This all changes in an instant with the arrival of government official, Mr. Zamora, and his team of masked doctors. Ami’s home is to become a leper colony, a place where people who have contracted this terrible disease will be sent to live out their final days far away from their families and the rest of civilisation. Worse still, all the island’s under-age inhabitants without the illness will be sent to live in an orphanage far across the water.
After being banished to the orphanage, Ami makes friend with a mysterious honey-eyed girl who helps her hatch a plan to escape and return home to her beloved mother. But will she be too late?
As I mentioned earlier, I had high expectations for this book and I was not disappointed. I read the whole glorious thing in one sitting! Millwood Hargrave’s beautiful writing instantly swept me away and I was right there with Ami on Culion Island feeling the heat on my back and the dust under my feet. When she was banished, I felt her pain and as she plotted as I was alongside her, willing her own.
Truly spell-binding storytelling. Although I hadn’t expected anything less!