Book Review, Middle Grade Fiction

Maria’s Island by Victoria Hislop & Gill Smith

Maria’s Island is a beautiful, heart-felt story of one community’s struggle with the shame, fear and sickness of leprosy.

Rita lives in London but every summer she travels to Crete to visit her yiayia (grandma). Mum wants Yiayia to move to England to be closer to them but there’s a very important reason why she won’t leave her island – she has too much to look after.

At first, Rita doesn’t understand but as she spends more time with Yiayia, she learns the very special story of her family’s history and connection to the island. Readers are privileged to journey into the past with Rita as Yiayia paints a picture of life when leprosy was a real threat and anyone could be taken away to isolate at any time. There was no treatment and no cure for this infectious disease. Saying good-bye and living life at a distance was the only option.

Author Victoria Hislop says, “During the creation of the story, Covid 19 came into our lives and, as I wrote, I saw many parallels between this new disease and leprosy. We all now know about the isolation that is required if you catch it, separation from family and friends which can last several months and, of course, many children have even experienced the loss of a loved one for the first time.”

Themes that we have all come to know are explored in this powerful story – isolation, prejudice, loss, resilience, courage and hope.

This book looks and feels very special. Gill Smith’s gorgeous illustrations lift the already powerful story and breathe love and life into this touching tale.  

Everyday I Will Think of You…

Thank you to Walker Books for this beautiful book!

Click on the cover below to find out more or purchase on-line from Amazon.

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