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Literature / Orphan Island

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Orphan Island is a Coming of Age Fantasy Novel by Laurel Snyder.

Out in the sea, there is an island surrounded by fog. On this island, there live nine children, each one a year older than the other. To these kids, this island is paradise. The kids are entirely self-sufficient, they can do whatever they want, eat whatever they like, and have not a single care in the world. Plus, there are no changes made that affect their happiness.

Well, almost nothing anyway.

Once every year, a small green boat arrives on the island, bringing with it a small child to live there. Things is, there can only be nine children at a time on the island. There's even a poem about it.

"Nine on an island, orphans all,
Any more, the sky might fall."

So whenever the boat drops off a new kid, the oldest kid needs to get on the boat and leave the island for good. And the last person to leave was Deen, so now, Jinny is the new Elder of the island. So now, Jinny has to make sure the new arrival, Ess, learns all she needs to to look after herself, and that Ben, the next in line to be Elder, knows all he has to for when Jinny's time to leave comes in a year.

The book was published on May 30th, 2017.

Orphan Island contains examples of:

  • Ambiguous Ending: The book ends with Jinny taking Loo off the island on the boat, hoping to find someone who can treat his snake bite. What comes of this is never shown, so it is unknown whether Loo got the treatment in time or died.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": The kids on the island have their own names for things. For example, oysters are called "Ersters", nights are known as "Sleeps", and Octopus is called "inkfish".
  • Coming of Age: The story is this for Jinny.
  • Empathic Environment: When Jinny refuses to leave the island, things begin to change. For example, the shapes in the sky that appear every morning grow more muddled, it snows for the first time (explaining the line, "Any more, the sky might fall"), and the animals become less friendly, leading to Loo being bitten by a snake.
  • The Ghost: Abigail. She lived on the island long before everyone else, and left before any of the cast showed up. They only know she was there because of the annotations she left in all the books in the reading cabin, and the letter she wrote that was hidden in-between the cushions of the reading cabin's chair.
  • I Choose to Stay: Jinny refuses to leave the island when her time comes, going so far as to first try to push the boat out to sea, and ultimately dragging it onto the beach. The other kids are not happy about this, and don't really know what to make of it.
  • Mysterious Mist: The island is surrounded in perpetual mist, blocking the view of anything outside.
  • Passing the Torch: Whenever the oldest kid on the island leaves on the boat, the second-oldest kid becomes the new Elder. Jinny becomes the new Elder when Deen leaves.
  • The Place: The island the book is set on. It's never called Orphan Island, but it is indeed an island.