Synopsis (as written on the back of the book) is as follows:
Amihan lives on Culion Island, where some of the inhabitants – including her mother – have leprosy. Culion is all she has ever known. But the arrival of malicious government official Mr Zamora changes her world forever: islanders untouched by sickness are forced to leave. Banished across the sea, she’s desperate to return, and finds a strange and fragile hope in a colony of butterflies. Can they lead her home before it’s too late?
Ability to read – At the beginning of this I struggled. It was just something about the subject matter meeting the descriptions that I couldn’t connect to. By page 96 however, I gleamed the part of the book that made me interested and overall I thought this was a strong book filled with developed characters, adventure and a good explanation of leprosy and the communities they were sent to. I had no issue with my ability to read this.
Characterisation – I thought Ami was a very strong character. Despite all the trials and tribulations she goes through, she still remains fiercely determined to make it back home. Her Nanay (Mother) was such a strong character who had learnt to live life around her leprosy and love Ami deeply. She was a strong role model for her daughter and gave a good insight into living with leprosy. Mari was the opposite of Ami but they brought a balance to each other which was needed. The character of Kidlat was fierce and silent but it was good to see the silent boy grow through the book.
Visualisation – I visited Spinalonga when I was in Crete many years ago. So, I had the advantage of knowing what a leper colony looked like – although Spinalonga is uninhabited now – and this helped with my ability to visualise. What I had little to no knowledge on, my imagination was able to conjure up, giving me a well-rounded visualisation of what was happening.
Uniqueness – I have never read a book on leprosy before. Nor have I actively sought out the subject matter. I was a fan of Kiran Millwood Hargrave from her first book and had wanted to see if she could hit the magic again with this one – which she did a thousand times over. This was a joy to read.