Review: The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon

29223495The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Publication Date: November 1st 2016
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Point of View: Alternative
Recommended Age: 10+
Pacing: Slow
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Friendship, Refugees

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Subhi is a refugee. Born in an Australian permanent detention center after his mother and sister fled the violence of a distant homeland, Subhi has only ever known life behind the fences. But his world is far bigger than that—every night, the magical Night Sea from his mother’s stories brings him gifts, the faraway whales sing to him, and the birds tell their stories. And as he grows, his imagination threatens to burst beyond the limits of his containment.

The most vivid story of all, however, is the one that arrives one night in the form of Jimmie—a scruffy, impatient girl who appears on the other side of the wire fence and brings with her a notebook written by the mother she lost. Unable to read it herself, she relies on Subhi to unravel her family’s love songs and tragedies.

Subhi and Jimmie might both find comfort—and maybe even freedom—as their tales unfold. But not until each has been braver than ever before.


THE BONE SPARROW so needed to be written.

And I’m ashamed of that. I’m ashamed of our species; that we can show such cruelty toward refugees and asylum seekers.

For once, I wish I could have said that there are million books like this one, and we’re so aware of the way refugees and asylum seekers are treated that we put a stop to such dark detention centers years ago.

But that is not the case. So thank you Miss Fraillon for taking the time to write this revelatory, touching and lyrical novel.

This story follows refugee Subhi, who was born at the detention center, his reckless best friend Eli and Jimmie who needs Subhi as much as he needs her.

The symbolism is extremely powerful. I especially liked the duck, to whom Subhi talks and who talks back. It says everything Subhi wished he would, but doesn’t have the courage to. We all think things we wish we could say but can’t.

Be warned that it’s a slow-paced story. There also isn’t a plot per se, which can sometimes be positive because it opens the door to many surprises (though not always welcomed ones).

Again, thank you Miss Fraillon for this unforgettable book. May it reach the hands of dozens of thousands of readers.

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3 thoughts on “Review: The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon

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