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Mr Conan, Impington Village College

The Bone Sparrow

It is 7 months since I read this book. I remember, obviously, the emotional power of it and the author's courage in using a book written for children and teenagers to depict the appalling details of life in a detention centre for refugees. Given the shocking nature of much of this book, I am disappointed that what really has stayed in my mind is how irritated I was with a linguistic tic used repeatedly by Subhi. In general, his use of English was excellent and so I found it hugely irritating to read sentences like '... both Queeny and Eli know I'm bluffing because the excited goes out of their faces pretty quick' or 'his eyes smile along with his mouth, and even with that ache of sad about them ...' or 'The sweet is so strong it fills my mouth with a cloud of warm that sets my tongue rolling'or 'Eli turns to Queeny, a quiet hard in his eyes' or telling stories about 'the Pebbles of Happy'. 'Subhi is able to distinguish between 'bought' and 'brought' and to use English in quite sophisticated sentences all the rest of the time so this one, frequently repeated misuse of language grated on me in a way similar to when you're trying to sleep while a dog is barking in the distance: you're always waiting for the next bark.
I may have to read this book again, to exorcise my irritation with a minor stylistic quirk and remind myself of what an important story Zana Fraillon has created.

Posted on: 12th June 2017 at 06:47 pm

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