Island’s End by Padma Venkatraman
A remote island in the Bay of Bengal is the setting for this novel by the author of Climbing the Stairs. Uido is a teen who can communicate with spirits. Just before strangers arrive at their island, Uido dreams of it. The tribe has conflicted feelings about the strangers, some are drawn to the technology of their fast boats and matches, while others see the end of their ways if the new ways are adopted. During this confusing time, Uido studies to become her tribe’s spiritual leader. There is danger in the studies, from braving the dangers of the island to finding her spirit animal. But nothing is as dangerous yet beguiling as the strangers and their new ways, as Uido is soon to find out.
Venkatraman creates a vivid world here surrounded by water and coral reefs. It is a world where everything is different. The island itself is a character in the book as seasons turn, Uido journeys across the island, and finally in the climactic ending scenes. The island is beautiful, wild, untamed and irresistible.
Uido is a heroine who faces many self-doubts, but rises to the challenges she is faced with. She has a spirit herself that is true and strong. She struggles with a friend who doesn’t understand her, a brother who is jealous, and the loneliness of being away from her family. Plus the allure of the modern world. Yet in Uido, readers will also see a young woman who is tied to the traditional ways in a strong and compelling way.
Beautifully written, this book is a journey into an unknown, primitive world where readers will discover a radiance and wonder. Appropriate for ages 13-15.
Reviewed from ARC received from Penguin Young Readers Group.