The Bone Sparrow

Zana Fraillon. Disney-Hyperion, $17.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-4847-8151-7
Subhi hangs on his mother’s stories of her life in Burma as a Rohingya, a persecuted ethnic Muslim minority. Subhi’s Maá (mother) and his older sister were among the Rohingya exiled from their homeland and relegated to a detention center in Australia, where he was born. The 10-year-old’s imagination helps him survive in a refugee camp ruled by abusive guards as he watches Maá sink into catatonia and waits in vain for the arrival of his father, an outspoken poet. Australian author Fraillon crafts a harrowing vision of life in the detention center (shoes are rarities, rats and mold are rampant, children race lice for fun), yet Subhi finds solace in sensitively portrayed friendships with a rebellious older boy, a compassionate guard, and an intrepid girl named Jimmie who sneaks into the camp to hear Subhi read stories her late mother recorded in a notebook; though most of the story is told from Subhi’s first-person perspective, several third-person chapters focus on Jimmie’s life outside the camp. While addressing themes of loss, desperation, and injustice in an all-too-relevant setting, Fraillon’s resonant novel underscores the healing power of story. Ages 9–12. Agent: Claire Wilson, Rogers, Coleridge & White. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/03/2016
Release date: 11/01/2016
Genre: Children's
Prebound-Glued - 240 pages - 978-0-606-40712-0
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-1-4847-8191-3
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