The Island of Beyond by Elizabeth Atkinson (2016)


A thoughtful middle grade book about finding friends and pushing one’s boundaries on a summer trip to a rural Maine island.

Recommended grade level: 4-6

Pages: 288 (for ISBN 9781467781169)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction

Tone/Style: mysterious

Pace: leisurely

Topics: islands, the outdoors, summer, trips

Themes: making friends, trying new things, becoming more active, becoming brave, discovering values

Summary: Eleven-year-old Martin Hart can hardly imagine a worse summer.

Martin’s dad wants him to like “normal” boy things—playing sports and exploring the outdoors—so he sends Martin to his great-aunt Lenore, who lives on a tiny island called Beyond.

But nothing about Beyond is what Martin expects, certainly not the strange local boy who unexpectedly befriends Martin. Solo can canoe and climb trees and survive on his own in the wilderness . . . and Martin’s drawn to him in a way he doesn’t quite understand. He’s not even sure he can trust Solo. In fact, can he trust anything about this strange island, where everyone seems to be keeping secrets?

This coming-of-age will keep readers turning the pages as Martin conquers his fears, forges extraordinary friendships, and surprises everyone — including himself. (from Source)

Who will like this book?: This is a thoughtful book best for mature readers who enjoy reading about internal change.

Who won’t like this book?: I feel it would take a special reader to “get” this book. Many readers will have a hard time with the leisurely pace and lack of action.

Other comments: Martin spends the first half of the book complaining and refusing to try things. The story really hits its stride after he comes around and develops a sense of purpose.


What to read next: This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki is a graphic novel that also follows young people who undergo great change on a summer getaway.


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