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Dominic, Our Lady's Abingdon (OLA)

The Bone Sparrow

Subhi's story is enthralling and I enjoyed it from the first page. It is superbly crafted and I felt by the first page that the author, Zana Fraillon had contemplated about every word she had written into life. It grasps the horrors of refugee camps, not only in Australia, but all over the world. A wonderfully thoughtful and heartrending book, I would definitely recommend it.

The book is written from two points of view, Subhi and Jimmie, two well-developed characters with similar but different lives, that brings them closer through the book.
Subhi was born in a refugee camp in Australia, with his mother and sister having come from Burma, and dad missing. If they returned to Burma, they would all be killed. Never having known anything but the camp, Subhi longed for freedom and change. When he found books, he devoured them at a rapid pace, even resorting to the instruction manual to building the rec room. Spilt into groups, the refugees know only their miniature world inside the fences. Surrounding the refugees, abusing them and looming over them, are the Jackets, who keep them in line.

Subhi is a thoughtful and unique person. Apart from his mother, he is the only person who can see the Night Sea. A wave of blackness that washes through the camp, leaving treasures behind. I like Subhi. He is a loyal character, who will stay with his friends and never desert them.
Jimmie's mum dies. But only after giving her daughter a beautifully carved necklace; the Bone Sparrow. Told that the people behind the fence have bikes and whatever they want, she wants to explore at the bottom of the hill by the fence.

'Jonah taught Jimmie how every fence has a weak spot - it's only a matter of finding it.'

Jimmie meets Subhi behind the fence and they soon become friends. Jimmie is an excitable, interesting character, who tells - honestly - really awful duck and chicken jokes, she is funny, but can be serious.

Weaved through the story, her mum's tale of Jimmie's great-great-great-grandmother Anka and her husband Oto is told - it is what Jimmie and Subhi read every time they meet. Oto is given the Bone Sparrow by a wise old woman Mirka, and though all his troubles it keeps him safe. It is a sad but also happy story that brings the whole novel together and links the chapters. Jimmie's necklace, passed down through the generations, is a symbol of safety. Jimmie makes Subhi realize that the sparrow that landed on Subhi's bed was a symbol of protection.

This is the theme that runs through the story, and whatever life throws up, the Bone Sparrow is there to keep them safe. The only thing I didn't like about the book was that the chapters were very long, and I think they could have been shorter. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants their eyes to open. I would rate it 4.5/5 stars.

Posted on: 22nd March 2017 at 01:47 pm

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