Maria's Island

Victoria Hislop & Gill Smith (Walker)

Maria's Island

Review by Taseefa
The book is about a girl called Maria, with a virus going around her town Plaka called leprosy. Everyone with leprosy must move to an island called Spinalonga because there is no cure. One day, her best friend Dimitris gets it and moves away to the island where she can’t ever go. The next day she notices a pale mark on her mother’s neck which is a sign of leprosy. Her mother gets it and moves away. After a few years Maria gets it and moves to the island where she can see Dimitris, but her mother had died because leprosy started showing its symptoms. One day, a doctor came and tried to find a cure [but] his first cure didn’t work and made people feel worse. For his second, cure people were scared to do try it out because with the other cure it made people feel worse. Maria tried it out and it worked so many other people had the cure, and everyone could go back to Plaka.

The things I like about the book is that it was in first person, which makes it better and easier to read. I also like the way it is worded so anyone can read it and it’s appropriate for most ages. The book is very touching and is a powerful and enchanting story for all. I would recommend this book to people who like stories full of action, romance, and friendship. I think the emotion touches you and describes the character well about how they’re feeling. Maria is a strong character who has gone through a lot, her mother and her best friend getting leprosy, her mother dying, her getting leprosy, she is a very courageous character. I also like how it teaches some Greek words so then you can learn a bit of another language and it’s also good how it gives the meaning of the word for example yiayia means grandma.

Review by Saffron
I found the character Maria very interesting as she never gave up on what she thought could happen and always had hope she would some day find what she was looking for. I also liked the character of Dimitris because he showed his emotions and was quite a big inspiration for Maria. He also never gave up on his life even though he had quite a tough childhood.

I didn’t like the characters who were Dimitris’ parents because they were mean to him and ashamed of him, even though he did nothing wrong. I didn’t like how they kept everything a secret and even denied when people asked if they were his parents. I didn’t like the character of Anna either as she thinks that everyone with leprosy is weird and dangerous to her and everyone else, also she doesn’t like the stigma in her family.

I learnt about how people were treated when they had leprosy and what some Greek words meant. I learnt the effect of leprosy and how it may have ruined many lives and families when it was around. In the book, they would talk in Greek words and then tell you the meaning.

[The time it was set in] was interesting to me because it was fascinating to know what things were like back then and how they were dealt with around the world when no one had any evidence anything worked. It was also interesting because I found out how nice and how mean people were when leprosy was taking over the world with no cure except to isolate people away from others.

The plot was thought provoking because I had never heard about leprosy before, and it was interesting to know what everything was like. I found it serious for most of the story because there was a lot of things that made you think how bad it was when leprosy was around. I thought it was light-hearted from near the end of the book because everything seemed to get better.

The fact that it was relating to the present from all the isolation stood out [for me] and also that it was sad, happy and a bit nerve-racking all at the same time. As well as every time you got to the next paragraph you just wanted to read on.

I would definitely recommend this book to others.

Review by Nikol
In this book, I found Maria to be a very interesting character because she shows different types of emotion throughout the book and it was exciting to see what she was going to do next.

I didn’t really like the character of Anna because I really don’t understand why she just left the family like she did without even saying goodbye. She just really only cared about herself – more than others in her life.

I learnt a lot about the past from this book. I learned that before Maria was born, people still suffered from leprosy and were trying to find a cure. The interesting part is that it relates to us today as we have gone through a pandemic and people have had to go through isolation, just like they did in the book. I like how they skipped over time and I also like where the book was set.

Some parts in the book were serious, for example – someone dying, but some parts were exciting as I wanted to know what was going to happen next. Some parts were even light-hearted.

Many things stood out in the book, but the most interesting part is that people had to be isolated on a separate island which took them away from their loved ones.

I would recommend this book because it is just heart-breaking but exciting too. The book is heart-breaking to read because it tells us about people having to isolate to keep others and loved ones safe. It also connects to the time that we are in now.

Review by Cerys
One of the most powerful parts of this book explores the themes of loss, love and friendship.

I was instantly engaged with this book by the incredibly outstanding language that Victoria Hislop used when describing the adventures and the characters of the book. Another thing I loved were the illustrations by Gill Smith because it looked so realistic and if you like books that are about friends and family then this is the book for you.

One of my favourite lines in this book was “If you didn’t spend so much time playing with your hair you would have more time for homework,” because it is very funny and sassy.

The book started when a little girl called Rita was asking her Yiayia [grandmother] what life was like when she was little and who the girl was standing next to her in the family picture and soon learned it was her sister Anna.

The story was set in Greece but will live on in my heart.

Review by Isa
In this book there was a family and their mum died from a tragic disease called leprosy. It starts as a little white dot on your body then slowly triggers your limbs to fall off.

This story starts off with Maria’s friend Dimitris having to travel to Spinalonga Island due to him catching leprosy. Maria eventually catches the disease supposedly from Dimitris. Fast forward to when she’s an adult Maria takes an incredibly dangerous risk in hope of discovering the cure for leprosy. She consumed a dose of the drug daily desperately needing the antidote to work. After all her hard work and grief, this amazingly paid off with her finding the cure to the gruesome disease. 

I would highly not recommend this book because it was too graphic for me. The concept of a disease where fragments of people’s body slowly decay incredibly disturbs me. The letters Maria’s mother would send her made me deeply emotional because of how sweet and considerate her mum was pre-passing away. But on a positive note, I’ve learnt a few new vocabularies such as ‘shunned’, ‘testament’ and ‘reprimanded’.

Overall, I would give this book a solid 3 out of 10. I would only recommend this if the person enjoys meaningful and emotional fiction. This book was definitely not for me I prefer adventure or comedy books with exciting and happy themes. 

Review by Albert
This amazing book is about a girl named Maria who lives a normal(ish) life with her mum, dad Anna (her sister) and her best friend Dimtris. One day her school is forced to check their students for signs of a common yet incurable disease called Leprosy, yet sadly Dimitris and her mum had caught it. Mr Lakaidis rowed them over to the isolated island Spinagola. Maria then devotes her life to finding a cure. I personally like Dimitris because I thought he was such a fun character and played the role of the best friend perfectly. I would recommend it to everyone who can get their hands on the book.

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