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Daisy, Chobham Academy Book Group

The Bone Sparrow

Overall, I found this book slow to read with an average plot. I also thought that the plot was quite predictable, therefore I wasn't curious to find out what happened next. The story is set in Australia which personally, I didn't believe it was obvious when you read it. Subhi is a member of the Rohingya people of Burma. He was born in a refugee camp and his entire existence is kept behind a razor wire, and the casual brutality of the guards who are like hawks over everything. Subhi's only chance of being rich is in his dreams. Fraillon has given Subhi an Aboriginal lilt to his voice which gives the book a musical and poetic feel. Into this sea of poverty sails Jimmie, who lives not far away outside the camp. We presume she is Australian as this is where many Rohingya refugees have actually been imprisoned but this is never explicitly spelled out. Jimmie and Subhi start an unlikely friendship after she finds a hole in the fencing. Emotionally adrift after losing her mother, Jimmie can't read and takes a precious book of her mother's to Subhi who is as hungry for new stories as Jimmie is to hear familiar old ones. In exchange she brings gifts of hot chocolate in a thermos and smuggled food, which astonishes Subhi's taste buds, as all Subhi has had to live off is gloop given by the authorities in the camp. Subhi's endlessly sunny worldview masks the stultifying boredom of camp life, where there is no work, no entertainment and no chance of hope for a life beyond the razor wire. In a rare moment of discouragement Subhi admits: “For years I didn't get it. That we aren't wanted in this place or in Burma, or in any other place. I didn't get it that we aren't wanted anywhere.”

To summarise, this book is written well, but very slow and did not grip my attention. If you enjoy books about this subject, you will enjoy it as it is crafted well. However, personally, i don't think it should win the Carnegie book award.

Posted on: 6th May 2017 at 10:49 pm

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