The End of the World and Beyond
Algonquin Young Readers, 2019
buy the book
audio book narrated by
Did you read the prior book?
if you liked this book, try:
What’s this book about?
Convicted of thievery and transported from England to America, Oliver Cromwell Pitts, shackled to his fellow prisoners, endures inedible food, filthy conditions, and deadly storms on his voyage across the Atlantic. But the hazardous shipboard journey is nothing compared to the peril that waits for him on the colonial shores.
In Annapolis, Oliver’s indentured servitude is purchased by the foul, miserly Fitzhugh, who may have murdered another servant. On Fitzhugh’s isolated tobacco farm, Oliver’s only companion is an enslaved boy named Bara. Oliver and Bara become fast friends with one powerful goal: to escape Fitzhugh. Oliver hopes he can find his sister, Charity, brought somewhere in the colonies on a different ship. Bara dreams of reaching a community of free black people in the cypress swamp who may help him gain his liberty. But first the boys must flee Fitzhugh’s plantation and outrun their brutal pursuer and the dangers that lurk in the swamp.
Story Behind the Story
From a writers’ point of view, I have been blessed insofar as I’ve never really been at a loss for ideas for my novels. That said, it has gotten me into trouble because, in truth, they are good but sometimes half-baked ideas. In my enthusiasm I pitch these ideas to publishers, who grab hold. Then I have to give good literary life to those ill-formed notions. So far, so good.
“Though darker than its predecessor, this sequel is equally fine. The plotting is altogether laudable, the setting beautifully realized, and the characters highly empathetic. Especially good is the voice Avi has conjured for Oliver, just antique enough to evoke eighteenth century diction and syntax. One thing is certain: it may be the end of the world but there is no end to the pleasure Avi’s latest evokes.” (Booklist, Michael Cart, starred review)
“Told in appropriately 18th-century diction, Oliver’s picaresque is a harrowing page-turner that takes an unflinching look at what life was like for those living in servitude in the American Colonies. Oliver is quietly heroic but also realistic as he endures his fate. African Bara, though seen through white Oliver’s eyes, is given trope-defying agency, his intelligence and superior knowledge of the territory and customs putting him in the lead but never at Oliver’s service. Brief backmatter gives historical context to this sequel. Action-packed and inspirational—another stunner” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)
“Told in Oliver’s unforgettable voice, the novel paints a vivid picture of the horror of the voyage, the convict passengers forced to stand stooped over in the tween deck, bolted to the planking by iron chains around their necks. (“It was as if we were being fitted into a group coffin.”) The captain is Elijah Krets, “a spite-tempered, hufty-tufty man, well-suited for the ship’s previous satanic service, that of a chattel slave ship.”) Oliver dreads what awaits; he can read and write but these talents are not valued by the Maryland folk looking for free labor. Oliver finds himself in a miserable situation, on a remote plantation with a drunken, vicious master. His only solace is the black slave Bara who, unlike Oliver, cannot hope to be freed in seven years’ time. Amid the beatings, hunger and exhaustion of working in the tobacco fields, Oliver clings to the hope of being reunited with his sister Charity who is somewhere in this strange, new world.” (Buffalo News)