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Where the World Ends

Where the World Ends

By Geraldine McCaughrean

Quill lives on a Scottish island in the St. Kilda archipelago in 1727.  Each summer, he and a group of men and boys is rowed out to one of the sea stacs (rocky outcrops surrounded by water) to harvest birds for food.  It’s difficult, exhausting work.  The boys must sleep inside a cave on the bare rock and endure the cold.  But it’s only for a couple of weeks, so they always manage.

But this time is different – this time, no one returns to collect them.  For some of the boys, the only explanation is that the end of the world has come. Others are aware that there must be a good reason that their families have left them in the middle of the ocean, and they wait patiently to be rescued.

But summer turns into fall and then winter.  Most of the birds leave their little island, and the cold becomes unbearable.  Bird feathers are made into warm blankets, rocks are piled in front of the cave to keep out the wind, and a fishing rod is fashioned to keep them all fed.

The conflicts on the island are many, but Quill, to keep people happy, gives each boy an official title.  Niall becomes Keeper of Faces because he’s able to describe the faces of everyone from home.  Calum becomes Keeper of Music because of his beautiful singing voice.  And Quill, admired by all the little boys, becomes Keeper of Stories because he always has a story that makes everyone feel better.  Despite the many hardships, the boys manage to (mostly) keep the peace.  But how long can they really last out there?  Will they ever get rescued?

This is a great survival story filled with raw emotion.  Scottish terminology used throughout really gives the book a sense of place, and there is even a glossary in case you get confused.  Overall, Where the World Ends is highly recommended!