The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon 4/5
Subhi is a refugee who has spent all ten years of his life in a detention centre. Jimmie is a girl who lives on the Outside. Beautiful, vivid, and deeply moving, The Bone Sparrow is an important, timely story of survival and bravery, perfect for fans of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. This novel reminds us all of the importance of freedom, hope, and the power of a story to speak for anyone who’s ever struggled to find a safe home.
Born in a refugee camp, all Subhi knows of the world is that he’s at least 19 fence diamonds high, the nice Jackets never stay long, and at night he dreams that the sea finds its way to his tent, bringing with it unusual treasures. And one day it brings him Jimmie.
Carrying a notebook that she’s unable to read and wearing a sparrow made out of bone around her neck – both talismans of her family’s past and the mother she’s lost – Jimmie strikes up an unlikely friendship with Subhi beyond the fence.
As he reads aloud the tale of how Jimmie’s family came to be, both children discover the importance of their own stories in writing their futures.
Thanks to Hachette Children’s Group and Netgalley for giving me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
Subhi’s ‘voice’ is ensnaring straight off the starting block. Fraillon captures the personality of the nine year old refugee boy, who was born in a refugee camp in Australia and has never been outside of the fences. This book is an important read, and I would compare it to The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. There is an ethical, moral, and political message in this book, and it is expressed through the eyes of endearing, Subhi, and the girl on the outside of the fence, Jimmie. Jimmie’s character is just as captivating as Subhi’s.
Two children- one inside the fence and one outside- form a friendship. Educating each other about two very different lifestyles- in and out.
This is a brave story that delves into a situation we don’t see, but exists. A situation that sees many refugees living in squalor and horrid conditions in Australian camps. Fraillon has done a brilliant job at highlighting this.
The book felt slow to progress, and I was half way through before a real relationship developed between the children, and even further for any sort of real conflict to start. However, the writing was engaging, and the message is extremely important.
The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties.
All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman
K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review.