Book Review: The Bone Sparrow (MG)

I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon

Goodreads Summary:
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.

My Review:
The Bone Sparrow will open young minds to one of the atrocities of modern society – refugee camps. Subhi is ten year-old Rohingya boy who’s lived his whole life in a refugee camp in Australia. The conditions are awful. They eat slop, essentially, every day, unless there are government visitors. The guards are brutal, and his 12 year-old best friend is sent over to the men’s area because they need the space for another family with small children.

Jimmie is a ten year-old girl living near the refugee camp. Her mother is dead, and her father works long hours. She lives far away from her school, so she doesn’t always make it, and she’s never learned how to read. She finds a way into the refugee camp at night, befriends Subhi, and gets him to read her mom’s stories to her.

They share hot chocolate and horrible jokes. Jimmie shows Subhi pictures of her world on her phone, and amazingly they never get caught.

It’s a sweet story of friendship, imagination, and fighting against an unjust system with a bittersweet ending. Subhi witnesses something awful, and he’s going to tell the truth at the end in the hopes that conditions might get better for his family, himself, and the rest of the refugees.

My Rating: 3 Stars

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