Here is another engaging and thought provoking read from TV Padma, who has been featured in ST a while ago.
Set in a remote island in the Andamans, off India's coast, Island's End brings alive the simple and compelling lifestyle of a tribe yet untouched by "civilization/ development". Initially the descriptions of the village, their customs and the main character of the book- a fifteen year old girl by name Uido, reminded me of another wonderful protagonist- Ayla, in the Earth's Children series.
The imaginative narrative with what seems to be a good amount of research as well, makes for a very real picture of the tribe's age old ways of eco freindly living.
The spirited Uido is marked to be the next healer of her people and is trained by the current leader, Lah- me. Uido's training, her struggle to cure her young brother, gain acceptance of her older one, find and control her spirit animal and prove to her tribe that she is a capable leader, is what the story is about.
There is inevitable conflict, when the younger lot gets curious about the alluring yet potentially dangerous ways of the strangers. The strangers ( modern people on neighbouring isles) are not all villainous- there are good and helpful ones among them. Only making it a more difficult choice.
Uido emerges as the spiritual leader of the En-ge people, though with a bit of pathos and certainly a lot of struggle, when Uido's visions from the spirit world help her protect them.
The author had inspiration from her trip to India's Andaman Islands, where she had "passing contact with an ancient mode of life that pulses with its own special beauty."
Beautiful, raw and energetic, a good read for anyone who is twelve years and above.