Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George

a review by Rebecca Muir

The Edge of Nowhere is the first book in a new young adult series from Elizabeth George. Hannah Armstrong is a girl with a special talent – she can hear people’s thoughts. This poses problems, especially in crowded places (she has trouble filtering the thoughts she hears), and requires a conscious effort to hide – she has to be careful not to react to the thoughts she picks up.

Everything goes wrong when she picks up a thought she was not supposed to from her stepfather, and suddenly her life is in danger. She and her mother change her identity and flee. For the rest of the book, she is Becca King. She ends up all alone on Whidbey Island, waiting to hear from her mother and trying to keep a low profile.

She makes friends on the island – Seth, a school dropout with issues of his own, Debbie Grieder, a motel owner who is struggling with guilt and grief from her daughter’s death and Derric Mathieson, a Ugandan orphan who captivates her immediately with his big smile and his haunting, constant internal refrain of “rejoice, rejoice”.

Becca’s plans to keep a low profile are put in jeopardy when Derric is badly injured and his adopted father, who happens to be the Sherriff, starts turning the island upside down looking for who hurt his son.

This is an interesting book – there is an element of “Who dunnit” throughout the book, as well as an exploration of complex relationships and different forms of guilt and grief. There are a lot of characters hurting in this book, for a lot of different reasons. Elizabeth George handles these themes well as you would expect from such an experienced writer.

I did find the storyline a little frustrating, because Becca assumes that she is in danger on the island and goes into hiding, when it seems to me that confiding in some of the adults would have kept her safe and helped her friends. However, this sense of needing to sort it out for yourself, this slightly distorted perspective on the world, is part of being a teenager. It means things become more complicated than they need to be. It is, I think,  part of growing up and starting to take your place in an adult world while you still see everything with the intensity of an adolescent. I think Elizabeth George has tapped into the teenage mind well.

I enjoyed reading this book. I liked Becca as a character (apart from her reluctance to trust adults) and I look forward to reading the next installment and seeing her grow. There is a lot of scope in the characters for some interesting developments over the series.

Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Release date: 2012