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Bella, British School of Gran Canaria

The Bone Sparrow

Subhi is a boy born in an immigration detention centre who has never experienced life in the outside world. When he meets Jimmie, a girl from beyond the fences, he learns about what it's like to be free.
First, we're introduced to Subhi's mundane life; his narration tells us what it's like living inside the camps, how refugees struggle to remain positive and depend on their imaginations to overcome boredom, starvation and sorrow, desperately holding onto the hope that one day, things will be different for them.
Then, we get a glimpse of Jimmie's point of view (told in third person, as she is an Outsider) and we immediately see that she and Subhi have both endured difficult pasts, making them similar yet still very different at the same time.
Subhi and Jimmie support and depend on each other in times of need. Jimmie's mum's stories and her Thermos full of warm hot chocolate gives Subhi a break from the hard times and it's clear he treasures those moments dearly. Jimmie, as she is illiterate, needs Subhi not only as a voice for those stories but also as a companion to immerse himself in those stories with her.
This book is extremely symbolic, using the sparrow to symbolize many things: death, luck, freedom. But in the end, those are all changes we encounter in our lives and that's what the Bone Sparrow really brings. Change, "waking up new and starting again."
Although this is a fictional story, the conditions of the refugees' lives in the detention camps are unfortunately accurate and the treatment they get is no different from what they'd get in the outside world. What this book is trying to tell us is to change. To change the cruelty that refugees face but don't deserve, when they're just trying to live a normal life like the rest of us.
I loved this book from start to finish and I deeply support the message it's trying to get across. The way the events of Subhi's life are told is magnificent and the way the chemistry between characters change throughout the book is important for their development as characters. In the end, a brilliant tale that brings the following question to the table: these refugees have escaped their trouble-filled pasts looking for a better future, but will the way they'll be treated now really be any better than before?

Posted on: 3rd May 2017 at 08:58 am

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