The Blurb On The Back:
Jamie lives on an island out west – a wild place of wind, waves, and surging tides. He loves the island, but fears the surrounding ocean.
Mara lives on the island too – she’s fearless. The only thing that worries her is being sent away to school. When that threat becomes too real, she knows it is time to plan her escape.
And that’s when Jamie, Mara and her dog Django find themselves swept away on a wild sea adventure beyond anything they have dreamed of …
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The Review (Cut For Spoilers):
10-year-old Jamie Mackinnon lives in the Outer Hebrides with his mum and 13-year-old sister, Fiona (Fee). They moved there 3 months ago and his dad still lives in Glasgow (where he works), but he’s hoping to get a job on the islands soon. Fee hates living on the islands but Jamie loves it. His grandparents live nearby (his grandfather runs a boatyard making sail boats) and he loves the beaches and the nature. The only thing he doesn’t like is the sea – he’s not a good swimmer and is afraid of drowning.
One day in July, Jamie spots a girl and her dog sailing on a boat off a beach near his home. He’s never seen either of them before – she doesn’t go to his school – so when he spots them again later on the same beach, they start a conversation. The girl’s name is Mara, her dog is Django and they live with her mum on a different island (hence the boat). 13-year-old Mara is an expert sailor and is fascinated by St Kilda – the outermost island in the Hebrides and one where no one lives anymore.
When the island authorities tell Mara that she has to go to school, she decides that she’s going to escape to St Kilda, even though it’s a perilous journey that only expert sailors should undertake and Jamie gets swept away with her …
Julia Green’s adventure story for children aged 8+ is an evocative and entertaining read that makes full use of its Hebridean location, conveys a real love of the sea and establishes the grudging friendship that forms between its two main characters in a sympathetic and believable way but I felt the relationship between Mara and her mother was underdeveloped and the ending was a little abrupt.
The best thing about this book is Jamie’s first person narration. I completely believed in the love he has for the islands and their beauty and in his awkwardness as he tries to get to know Mara better. Mara is a little more of a mystery – in part because the backstory of what’s going on with her mother is under baked. Although there are hints that her mother isn’t well (or isn’t coping) and has been isolated by members of the community, this isn’t really drawn out and although I initially thought that her father was abusive due to Mara talking about how her mother suddenly took her away, this doesn’t seem to be the case and it doesn’t get explained what happened. I did like Mara’s unpredictability though – especially a scene where Jamie thinks that she’s left him behind – and the friendship that grows between them is believable and something that I think many readers will root for. Mention should also be made of the loyal Django, a terrier who goes with the children on their adventure but the sea is the real star of the book with Green doing well at conveying Mara’s love of it and the thrills and dangers involved in sailing.
Despite my criticism, I thought this was an entertaining read and I would definitely check out Green’s other work.
TO THE END OF THE WORLD was released in the United Kingdom on 5thApril 2018. Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.