Orphan Island

Orphan Island

Book - 2017
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On an island where one child is delivered each year while the eldest is taken away, nine children live under the leadership of new elder Jinny, who trains the latest newcomer and wonders what will happen when her own departure occurs.
Publisher: New York, NY : Walden Pond Press, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2017]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780062443410
Branch Call Number: J SNYDER
Characteristics: 269 pages : illustration ; 22 cm


From Library Staff

ArapahoeKati Feb 23, 2018

I liked the premise of the story but the execution (and ending) fell unexpectedly flat for me.

Nine orphans live alone on an island. They are safe, happy, and healthy. Once a year an unmanned boat comes and brings a new youngest child and takes the oldest child. But something changes and suddenly the island isn't as friendly and safe anymore.

From the critics

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Jun 20, 2020

This is amazing.

JCLGailK Apr 01, 2020

Overall I enjoyed this fast-paced, character-driven, open-ended book. Initially, I was left uneasy about the ending which leaves the reader with a multitude of unanswered questions. However, thinking about a 'coming of age' story, isn't that what kids face growing up? They have so many emotions and questions about life. Some are scared of the changes they are going through while other children seem to jump right into adolescence and embrace having more responsibility.

Nov 19, 2019

Well written and engaging. You keep wondering, "Why are these children on this island? Where does each year's replacement child come from, and why? Where does the child the new one is replacing, go? What is up with all the magic realism?" And then you come to the end...and realize you are going to have to keep wondering, because the author didn't do her job. There is no end to this arc. If this hadn't been a library book, I would've chucked it out the window. Even as a metaphor for growing up, it is TERRIBLE. As a reviewer below says: the ending sucks. Don't waste even a few hours of your life reading this one.

Jul 30, 2019

"Orphan Island is a book about letting go of something and someone you love. It's interesting how all the characters are children and solve problems that are usually solved by adults. Deep human bonds are formed in this story, and yet the book never gets gushy. This book stands alone because it is unlike other youth fiction I've read. I recommend that you try it."
Review written by my eldest child.

Jul 19, 2019

The ending sucked. Be prepared for a suck-y ending.

JCLJaymaZ Jun 18, 2019

This book had so much potential! I enjoyed the characters, the mystery of the island, the use of language by the author. But the end of the story left me feeling robbed. I still think this story is worth reading, but don't expect things to to get tied up nice and neat. If you are OK with that, you might love this book!

Feb 25, 2019

I gave 3 stars because I couldn't put this book down. I had to know how it ended and where they go on the boat. There were so many questions, so many things I wanted to know.


None of the questions get answered.
I finished this book at 3am, so irritated I just wasted my time. I get that there's a metaphor here, but why place so many clues with no answers? Not worth my time.

Jan 16, 2019

This book is very clearly an allegory for childhood & the transition into adolescence & puberty, but it was very unsatisfying to me. It would have been brilliant as a short story, where loose ends can be left trailing, but for a full-length novel, there were too many questions introduced that never got answered.

Every year, a green boat comes to the island where nine children live. It contains a small child (around the age of 4) who has come to live on the island. The Eldest child then gets in the boat and leaves. No one knows where the children come from, nor where they go when they leave. Do they have parents? Are they orphans? Who would send their children to live like this on their own? The children have to teach each new arrival how to cook, swim, read, and care for themselves on the island. The island is a paradise. Nothing will kill you. The fruits are all edible. Eggs, nuts, berries, and fish are gathered for food. There is a cabin that has clothing and another containing books. (Although nothing is ever replenished, and if it's gone, it's gone.) There are notes written in the margins of the books by the first girl who was on the island. She came when she was much older than when children now arrive, and was aware of her parents. Who was she? Why did she get sent to the island? WHERE is this island? How does it *work*? NONE of this is resolved.

Now that a new child has arrived and the previous Eldest has left, Jinny is now the Eldest, and frankly, she's a poor one. Her job is to take care of the new child, as well as teach the second-oldest how to care for the child who will be arriving next. She tends to fail on both fronts. Additionally, Jinny struggles with entering puberty with no one to answer her questions.
While next oldest child, Ben, offers to talk to her, she feels unable to confide in him. While I can understand the book mirroring the isolation many teens feel, it was frustrating that the *entire system* set up within the book was intentionally so. It doesn't *have* to be that way.

When it's Jinny's time to leave, she chooses not to. There are Rules on the island, and this is one of the main ones. When a new child arrives, the oldest leaves. When Jinny stays, things on the island start to change. Creatures that were once safe no longer are. The weather, always perfect, becomes stormy and cold. Again, *none* of this is explained. Again, this would be an awesome short story, but is incredibly frustrating in a 288 page book.

Lots of other people have truly loved this book. I'm not one of them. If you think that I'm just a grumpy curmudgeon and want to read it anyway, I'm sure it will be fine. It wasn't actively BAD. Just unsatisfying.

Jul 03, 2018


I love the mysteriousness in this book, of how you don't know where the orphans come from or where they go. I like the emotion in the book and how you can feel what their feeling. This book is definitely page-turning, I could have finished it in one day but..... I had school.

I recommend this book if you like mystery and adventure!

A wonderful story that blends magical realism with wilderness survival, this book will be a quick and intriguing read - but may leave readers wishing for a sequel. The author has said that she does not plan for a continuation of Jinny’s story, but is writing Abigale’s diary! https://writersrumpus.com/2017/05/16/orphan-island-by-laurel-snyder/

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Apr 15, 2018

H21415800 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

Feb 09, 2018

booknrrd thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over


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