Synopses & Reviews
From the acclaimed author of Climbing the Stairs
comes a fascinating story set on a remote island untouched by time. Uido is ecstatic about becoming her tribe's spiritual leader, but her new position brings her older brother's jealousy and her best friend's mistrust. And looming above these troubles are the recent visits of strangers from the mainland who have little regard for nature or the spirits, and tempt the tribe members with gifts, making them curious about modern life. When Uido's little brother falls deathly ill, she must cross the ocean and seek their help. Having now seen so many new things, will Uido have the strength to believe in herself and the old ways? And will her people trust her to lead them to safety when a catastrophic tsunami threatens? Uido must overcome everyone's doubts, including her own, if she is to keep her people safe and preserve the spirituality that has defined them.
Drawing on firsthand experience from her travels to the Andaman Islands, Padma Venkatraman was inspired to write this story after meeting natives who survived the 2004 tsunami and have been able to preserve their unique way of life. Uido's transformation from a young girl to tribal leader will touch both your heart and mind.
"Inspired by the author's trip to India's Andaman Islands, where she had 'passing contact with an ancient mode of life that pulses with its own special beauty,' this lovely novel introduces readers to a fictional island tribe that has practiced the same customs for thousands of years. Fifteen-year-old Uido is blessed with the ability to visit spirits in the 'Otherworld' through dreams and see into the future. She will become the next spiritual leader of the En-ge people, but first must undergo a rigorous apprenticeship with the wise Lah-ame, during which Uido learns lessons in healing and meditation that test her courage and faith. But no amount of mentoring can prepare Uido for her first great challenge: protecting her people from intruders, whose 'magic,' greed, and diseases threaten to destroy her people. Offering an enticing blend of mystic traditions and imaginative speculation, Venkatraman (Climbing the Stairs) beautifully expresses a primitive tribe's connection to nature and their struggle to find safety in the 21st century. Uido's strength, compassion, and commitment should win respect and spur discussions on the casualties of imperialism. Ages 10 up. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Succeeds spectacularly. . . . Uido is a remarkable heroine. . . . Heart-stopping action . . . the larger issues of modernity versus tradition offer much to think about. An intricate yet wholly accessible story." Booklist, starred review
"Readers will immediately connect with Uido. The doubt she feels in her own abilities will resonate with teens, as will her conviction to protect the ways of her people. . . . Vividly written and expertly paced . . . a moving story that will stay with readers long after the end." School Library Journal, starred review
"Uido's clear, intelligent, present-tense voice consistently engrosses as she pushes through doubt and loss to find the right path. The beach, jungle and cliff settings are palpable. . . . Refreshingly hopeful and beautifully written." Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Offering an enticing blend of mystic traditions and imaginative speculation, Venkatraman beautifully expresses a primitive tribe's connection to nature and their struggle to find safety in the 21st century." Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Uido, all fire and passion and easy strength, is a strong, personable element. . . . Fans of survival novels . . . and informed readers curious to know more about how modern society would impact an isolated tribe will both feel they’ve found the right book." The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"The research Venkatraman incorporated into this novel is apparent. . . . A fantastic cultural story with identifiable characters and a plot in which the reader will want to believe." Voice of Youth Advocates
About the Author
Padma Venkatraman was born in Chennai, India, but became an American citizen after attaining a Ph.D. in oceanography from The College of William and Mary. Padma's oceanographic research led her to the Andaman Islands, where she lived for a year, in close proximity to tribespeople similar to those in Island's End. Her first young adult novel, Climbing the Stairs, won the Julia Ward Howe Award and was a Book Sense Notable, Booklist Best Book of the Year, Bank Street College of Education Best book, New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age, YALSA BBYA selection, Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, and CCBC Choice. She lives with her family in Rhode Island.