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Nia Gordon Meniru, Ashmole Academy

The Bone Sparrow

'The Bone Sparrow' is a touching novel, engagingly written by Zana Fraillon. Fraillon is an authentic author born in Victoria, Australia. She explores the hidden adversities of the 'prosperous' land of Australia through the persona of a refugee.

The novel is written in the first person perspective of a young refugee boy-Subhi, who has spent his whole life detained in the melancholic fences of an Immigration detention centre based in Australia. Unlike many other characters in the novel, Subhi was born in the Immigration detention centre and has never felt/experienced the sensation of the outside world. Therefore, we can infer he has an undeniable desire to walk beyond the daunting fence.

As the novel progresses, readers can make clear parallels to John Boyne's novel- 'The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas'. This is evident in the way Fraillon explicitly mirrors Boyne's revolutionary interaction between two contrasting characters (Jimmie and Subhi) who build a warming friendship. Nevertheless , unlike 'The boy in the striped pyjamas' their touching friendship is not only through whispers separated by a menacing fence. But instead, Jimmie and Subhi have their own secrete hideout where they tell each other stories and Jimmie shares the wonders of the outside world that Subhi is always intrigued about.

The reader is intentionally exposed to an empathetic atmosphere for those who are blocked and hidden from society- trapped inhumanly in the unseen life of a detention centre. In addition the unexpected yet pure bond between Jimmie and Subhi reveals how crucial it is to not neglect the suffering of those who we may not relate to. Zana Fraillon highlights how we must endeavour to help or to do anything within our local communities to diffuse dilemmas that may not only affect us, as individuals.

'The Bone Sparrow' explores key themes of; social alienation, hope, freedom, justice, violence and love. Also we could argue that maturity and hope is a theme that frames the novel. This is displayed throughout as Subhi perseveres to believe there is still 'light at the end of the tunnel' despite numerous challenges he is bestowed upon along the way.

In conclusion I would rate 'The Bone Sparrow' 4.8/5 because although the plot begins slowly- I believe the story is so touching and vivid. Furthermore, I give this novel such a high rating mainly because how it foretells such a powerful and sensitive story through a relatable twelve year old boy. Considering that the novel is written by a twelve year old it specifically targets a young audience to become grateful as to such a life we live in compared to many others like Subhi around the world. Finally I would recommend this novel to a mature audience as it covers real present day conflicts.

Posted on: 12th June 2017 at 10:58 am

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