The Best of All Possible Worlds (Karen Lord)

I absolutely loved this book. It was one of the few novels that I’ve read in the last couple of years that I’ve read and read and refused to put down. Karen Lord has created a fascinating world, in which a planet is destroyed and the refugees from that planet take refuge on another. When I started reading it, I was absolutely convinced that it was going to be about how difficult it was to get these two cultural groups to live together. I completely expected that some of the characters would be openly hostile to anyone from a different background, but that was far from being the case. It was incredibly refreshing to read a story in which cultural differences are handled sensitively, with respect and compassion, and in which all the characters are working towards the goal of peaceful cohabitation. Basically, I assumed that there would be an immigration debate, and I was absolutely delighted to see that as far as all of the characters in this book were concerned, that wasn’t even an issue.

I also loved the protagonist. This is partly because she has a knack for languages, as do I, so I identified strongly with her. She was also older than female protagonists of novels tend to be – I think mid-thirties? – and it was only while reading this novel that I realised how unusual that is. Although that could have something to do with my tendency to re-read literature which is generally aimed at children and teenagers, it was really wonderful to see a character who is outside the late-teens/early-twenties age bracket embarking on such adventures.

It’s also a fantastic love story. Highly recommended.