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Bethan, John Mason School - Abingdon

The Bone Sparrow

The Bone Sparrow is a beautiful book, making you feel as powerless as a caged bird and as cruel as the person who trapped it. It just shows how evil and power-hungry we can be, but also how weak; and how strong we can be even in the toughest situations.
The book is about a boy called Subhi who’s been born and raised in a detention centre. His only family are his maa and sister Queeny. Eli is his only friend, but is just like a brotherly figure to him. On the other side of the fence is Jimmie, whose mother died when she was 6 years old and she lives with her father and brother Jonah. Jimmie visits Subhi most nights so that he can read to her the book that her mother left her when she died. It’s the story of Jimmie’s great-great-grandparents and of how the bone sparrow necklace guided Oto back to his wife and newborn child. Whilst Subhi has been told a sparrow represents death, Jimmie believes it symbolises hope and new beginnings.
During the day at the camps, the inhabitants are fed oatmeal mixed with grit and stews of animals no-one can name. Eli has stolen a camera from the supplies for Queeny so she can capture what life is like and send it to people from the Outside. When Eli is sent to a separate part of the camp that’s for the single men, even when he’s at least 5 years off, him and his new found friends go on a hunger strike to rebel against the conditions that they’re supposed to live in.
On the day of the rebellion, Jimmie visits Subhi and is not her usual self. A cut had become infected and she had a fever. When she left, she realised that she was too weak to move and flashed “help!” to Subhi. Subhi had to then escape past the guards and call the ambulance so that it could come to rescue her. One she is safe, Subhi rushes back to the, now smouldering, camp to look for Queeny and Maa. There she witnesses Eli’s death at the hands of the Beaver, the most vicious of the guards.
The book ends with Queeny, Maa and Subhi on a container that is their make-shift emergency hospital, watching the solar flares. In the distance, Subhi can see a whale. He remembers when Eli told him about the whale being the first creature of the ocean and can see that the whale is Eli.
I really enjoyed the book because it was honest about our modern day situations that can be both eye-opening and crude. It’s a story of hope and living on through even the darkest days. It was beautifully written and an explosion of emotions. It was about finding your wings and taking flight. The writing itself held the emotions by using varying lengths of sentences and chapters.
To improve, I think I would have liked for the story to have carried on to the future, where you can see Subhi with his own family and away from the camp.
This book perfectly shows the struggles in an immigration detention centre and I think we need books like these that open our eyes and show us that literature is not just here to give us teenage love stories. Because of this, I would give the book a 9 out of 10.

Posted on: 23rd March 2017 at 08:36 am

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