“The End of the World and Beyond,” by Avi, is a sequel to the book The Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitts, which tells the story of a younger Oliver. In that story, the reader learns that Oliver’s mother died giving birth to him, that his home in England was destroyed by a storm, and that his father, who was not ready for parenting, abandoned newborn Oliver and his older sister, Charity. The End of the World and Beyond picks up the story of Oliver who has been enlisted involuntarily as a pickpocket by Mr. Sandys, an adult criminal. Oliver is soon convicted of thievery and sentenced to be a servant in the American colonies. The End of the World and Beyond describes Oliver’s harrowing journey to the colonies, and his life as a convict servant in Annapolis, Maryland.
This may sound like a depressing story, but there is humor along the way. Oliver notes the name of his convict ship (The Goodwill) and remarks, “a name I assure you I did not invent.” There is also a heartwarming friendship between Oliver and Bara, a slave on the plantation where Oliver ends up in Maryland. You will also learn intriguing facts about the old Americas, like the maroon colonies which were colonies of escaped servants or slaves.
A difficult feature in the book is old English, but once ye get the hang of it you can understand it better. At 325 pages The End of The World and Beyond is a bit lengthy and feels like it could have been fifty pages shorter. The length does not ruin the book, but it does make it a better choice for patient readers.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in history and willing to take time to understand the old English. You do not have to read the first book to understand this one but you might find that you will want to – I am looking forward to reading it!