“Mara frowned, ‘Are you scared of everything, Jamie? Don’t you dream of adventures too?’
I didn’t answer. I kept my eyes firmly on the land ahead.”
Following on from Julia Green’s The Wilderness War is the sweeping adventure To the Edge of the World. The story follows Jamie’s life on a remote island in the Outer Hebrides, islands at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean – at the edge of the world. Having grown up on the mainland in Glasgow, the solitude of island life is a shock to Jamie and his older sister, Fee. But whereas Fee longs to return to the city, Jamie embraces the wildness of the island and the freedom it gives him. He loves it all – except for the sea. Because the sea is deep and dangerous; drowning is his biggest fear.
The story, laid out in short named chapters, is divided into three parts: How it Started, The Journey, and Afterward. As soon as Jamie meets Mara – the daughter of a reclusive hippy allowed to roam the island with her adorable pet dog, Django – we know Jamie’s caution and fears are about to be challenged. Their contrasting natures crash against each other as forcefully as the Atlantic waves and while Jamie holds on tightly to his fears, Mara pushes her own fearlessness to its limits. Having never attended school, and with the authorities threatening to force her onto the mainland, Mara makes a decision – one that will turn Jamie’s world upside-down.
The landscape of both the island and the sea is used to great effect. Often lyrical, always emotive, Green uses this incredible setting to add both tension and beauty, drama and tranquillity. Jamie, in his caution, is a gentle character trying to free himself from his own fearful shackles. Mara, on the other hand, is unconventional, as wild and changeable as the sea. Green makes you long to get in the boat with them and set sail on the adventure of a lifetime.
Exploring friendship and what it is to be yourself, To the Edge of the World reflects on how following your dreams, rather the expectations of society, can take you to greater places. As Jamie realises early on: “I wished I could be more like her. Not like her, exactly. More, able to be myself, the way she was herself.” And, as Jamie discovers, the only way to truly be yourself is to let go of your fears and learn to trust that the people who truly matter will like you for who you are and not what you pretend to be.