“Each of us carries the map of our lives on our skin, in the way we walk, even in the way we grow.”
Forbidden to leave her island, Isabella dreams of the faraway lands her father once mapped. When her best friend disappears, she’s determined to be part of the search party. Guided by an ancient map and her knowledge of the stars, Isabella navigates the islands dangerous forgotten territories. But beneath the dry rivers and dead forests, a fiery myth is stirring from its sleep…
I stumbled across this book completely accidently when on a spontaneous trip to Waterstones I noticed a very pretty cover that I just couldn’t resist. Kiran Millwood Hargraves’ debut novel tells the story of Isabella, the daughter of a cartographer with a thirst for adventure and a love of stories. It’s amazing to see such an intelligent, independent young girl especially in a book targeted at younger readers. Isabella is a strong and inspiring character who prioritises family and friendship throughout the entire story.
One of my favourite things about this story is the setting. The world is very similar to our own but the island of Joya is has a beautifully in depth history and a mythology that ties elegantly with the main storyline causing the book to seem magical even when nothing fantastical is happening. I would happily read an entire book just about the myths of The Isle of Joya…Kiran? Just a little suggestion for you…
A strong theme throughout this book is that of loyalty and friendship. The relationship between Isa and her best friend Lupe is truly inspiring. Despite their hugely different perspectives on life their friendship is the base for this book and due to Kirans’ skilled writing never feels forced for the sake of the story. Wrapped within the mythology and the magic I was most touched by the love and sacrifice between Isa and Lupe although I was surprised by the emotions this book evoked in me.
Even though this book is targeted at younger readers I would thoroughly recommend it to people of all ages. I’ll admit, the beautifully crafted ending caused me to shed a tear. In a world so full of myth and magic it would have been easy to lose the depth of the relationships but this book balances it perfectly, intertwining them in such a way that they simply accentuate each other.
For younger and older readers this book teaches valuable lessons about friendship, family and sacrifice as well as giving us the chance to explore a wonderfully creative world. In the end what I thought would be a sweet story about a young girls adventure turned out to be a surprisingly emotive tale with a lovely message for people of all ages.