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Rule of the Bone: A Novel
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Rule of the Bone: A Novel

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  5,579 ratings  ·  530 reviews
When we first meet him, Chappie is a punked-out teenager living with his mother and abusive stepfather in an upstate New York trailer park. During this time, he slips into drugs and petty crime. Rejected by his parents, out of school and in trouble with the police, he claims for himself a new identity as a permanent outsider; he gets a crossed-bones tattoo on his arm, and...more
ebook, 400 pages
Published September 27th 2011 by Harper Perennial (first published 1985)
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Apr 23, 2007 Tiffany rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those that think holden caulfield is a little, priviledged bitch
Shelves: morethanonce
Rule of the Bone is a book about a fourteen year old kid who fails out of school, is already hooked on drugs, and is being secretly abused my his stepfather. I know this sounds dark, but Bone, the main character, is, perhaps, one of the most "together" narrators. He knows his flaws and the world's flaws, but this does not stop him from living the existence he chooses--to be homeless and kind of a mallrat. Have you ever met a complete druggie loser and have realized that he is smarter and more in...more
eh... the main character is compelling but... but... I don't know. There is something surface about the whole thing. I kind of hate that the healing balm for the kid's smothered soul comes in the guise of a jamaican rasta dude -- a gimmick to give the story a little exotic flavoring??? and if the whole point is for the kid to know himself, i don't think the book teaches anything. He never stops looking outside himself for his sense of self.
Rule of the Bone by Russell Banks is a story about a young boy named Chappie. Chappie lives with his mom and step dad in a small town in upstate New York in the Lake Placid area. Chappie, just 13 at the time grows a fondness for marijuana and hangs out with a tough crowd that is all very much older than him. As time goes on Chappie becomes more and more addicted to weed and alcohol. This addiction eventually leads him to stealing from his mother to buy drugs and he gets kicked out of the house b...more
After reading The Sweet Hereafter I expected to be on a Russell Banks kick. I LOVED The Sweet Hereafter - it is such an amazing book. I loved the form of interviews that Banks used to tell the story. And then I read this. Rule of the Bone was a real let down for me. I'd even call it a disappointment. It felt so false, so contrived.

Prior to reading this book, I saw the film adaptation of The Sweet Hereafter and listened to Banks speak after. He said he felt Rule of the Bone and T.S.H., if he had...more
Max Klein
Max Klein
English 10
31 August 2011
Book Review C

Banks, Russel. Rule of the Bone; “A Novel”. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 1995.

Rule of the Bone by Russel Banks is a fantastic read because of the experiences, and memories of the main character, Chappie (or Bone later in the book). Russel Banks does a great job of incorporating the crazy experiences of a rebel teen into a book that sounds believable. The description that Banks puts into certain scenes really makes the book fun, and...more
Rule of the bone Russel Banks Harper Perennial,1996,400pp.,$13.95 ISBN 0060927240

“Life isn’t perfect”. As cliché as this may sound, it proves to be true in circumstances that involve individuals who are surrounded by negative influences. In Rule of The Bone, by Russell Banks, the protagonist Chappie is an example of an imperfect life due to others. The message in the novel is what raises its level of reality in the novel. The realism of the novel adds to its popularity and is what creates its...more
(I'm reprinting this from my review of another edition, here w/in Goodreads) The finest accomplishment of a splendid contemporary's career. RULE OF THE BONE takes on the kind of lost child most of us would far prefer to ignore -- a mall rat with a fondness for weed, medicating the pain out of his own broken and abused home. The novel keens the tragedy of America's neglected young people like no other I know, lashing brilliantly into the commercial forces that turn a seven- or eleven-year-old int...more
Julia Hiltebeitel
The novel Rule of the Bone by Russel Banks was probably the best book I've read all summer. It's a decent sized book, about 400 pages, and yet I read it all in two sittings. The novel is truly gripping, and keeps the reader entertained as the main character Bone goes through different adventures. It smashes the typical idea that we have to have our lives figured out from the time we're children, or at all for that matter. Instead of being driven by a plan, or by a future, Bone is driven by the p...more

There are some books that are just so implausible that you cannot suspend disbelief enough to derive any enjoyment from reading them. "Rule of the Bone" falls dangerously close into that category, but the earnest writing of Russell Banks redeems itself in the end.

The implausibility in this case comes from the protagonist and narrator, a 13 year old homeless juvenile delinquent/drug dealer/miscreant/ne'er-do-well in upstate New York who after finding his life turn to sh*t, finds a Rastafarian Jam

The rule of the bone by Russell Banks is a good book. This book shows the idea of how conflict can build character. In this novel, Chappie a 13 year old boy embarks on a journey through life wich would change his perspective on life forever.
Chappies was introduced to the use of drugs at an early age. He started smoking weed and hanging around the wrong people. From this point on everything seemed to go down hill. Chappie ran away from home. After that his relationship with his mom was drainin...more
Meghan Fidler
Handed to me with the description "this is a whiteness study," Russell Bank's "Rule of Bone" presents the stream of consciousness of a young boy Chappie (later known as Bone). The flowing nature of this kind of story-telling makes the book difficult to put down, but this style can also fell unpolished and choppy. Banks overcomes this limitation at times, leaving the reader with well-crafted thought-descriptions like the following:

I remember the singer and his wife lying in their perfect bodies o...more
Patrice Sartor
See how many shelves I put this book on? Doing so has made me realize how very involved Rule of the Bone is. There is a LOT going on, and it never slows down. The story only spans 1.5-2 years of the life of the protagonist, yet Bone's (formerly Chappie) change from 14 to 15 is tremendous. We also learn a bit about his troubled past, including (view spoiler).

Bone begins to mature once he meets I-Man, a true-blue Rastafarian...more
I started this book hoping that it will grab my interest, but it didn't worked out that much for me. The flatness of the voice and how the novel was written by Russell Banks -- no commas and conversationally distant sentence structure as if Chappie, the 14-year old lead character had really written it -- didn't appeal to me.

But this book is not just awfully written though. The plot was fantastic and Russell Banks really represented a strong voice for the youth. He provided a good point of view o...more
This was a fascinating novel by an author I really like. It could be classified as a boy's coming of age, but with so many unusual twists, that it doesn't fit well into that genre. Chappie, later to become Bone, is a teenager living a painful, traumatized life with a seemingly sociopathic family. The rawness of his experience living on a total subsistence level as he experiences situations of an underlife in rural upstate New York hit the reader deeply. The places he lives and the characters he...more
I enjoyed this book. I liked I-man and sister rose and Bone's love for them as a quasi family. But depressing. You count your lucky starts for good parents after this book. You wonder if Bone will turn out okay. Interesting that he can see how messed up his family is at such a young age and doesn't want to be that. And even how messed up one of his friends is and how he knows he needs to stay away from him as nothing good will happen to stay friends with him. Also interesting how they book put s...more
Jack Test
A deeply dark book with a crude vocabulary provided for a great book with nothing but the an amazing book, great for others with a morbid interest and wanting a book without anything to keep you from a horrifying story. I was very much impressed by the structure of the book, it was unusual to what I was used to but a great change for an interesting book such as this. The amount of stories packed into the book gave for much interest since you weren't continuously stuck with the same plot. I also...more
Tiffany Hickox
This book was a serendipitous find. Having picked the book up off the counter of my parents house about 12 years ago (I believe my father was reading it) and reading a page or two, I made a mental note to read the book one day. All I could remember about it was a yellow cover and the word "bone" in the title, so I have been passively looking for the book for over a decade. Then one day while at work (I'm a librarian), it was returned by a patron. And so began my journey with Bone.

Bone's story is...more
Anahi Baca
I feel like I keep reading all these books that are like a relationship gone wrong. They start out strong. You are totally on board, everything is going swimmingly, and then after you have already put in your time and are emotionally invested, everything takes a sharp left turn, and leaves you wondering what happened.

This book is like that. When the main character, Chappie aka Bone, is just a homeless kid hanging out at the mall, it’s all gravy. When he meets the Rasta who becomes his best frie...more
Aug 06, 2014 Dani marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
I love a good character driven book. However, for a character-driven book to go places, it's got to have a good character, a good tone and a good voice to tell the story with. This book didn't, at least not for me.

The kid speaks with too much of a run on sentences, and the observations of his world are skewed and to be honest I just can't hold much respect for this kid. I can empathize with a kid who's got a bad home life and who makes some pretty shitty choices on impulse but still meaning wel...more
Russell Banks has a knack for "coming of age" stories about boys who start life in society's underbelly and Chappie, the self-proclaimed Bone, is no exception. It's a hard book to read because its pages are populated with cruel, hardened adults ready to prey on children in endlessly self-serving ways.
Only when Bone gives up yearning for and identifying with his parents, his so-called friends, his country, and even his "whiteness" does he gain self reliance and self knowledge.
"Rule of the Bone"...more
Feb 01, 2010 Eric rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
This was a really good book. It had action adventure and everything a book should have.I learned that life is filled with many new exciting adventures,that will lead us in a unforgettable journey through time.
this book has a lower average rating than skinny bitch? what is wrong with you guys? chappie is one of my favorite narrators of all time.
Banks really get the "voice" of his characters in this one. A great read.
Lucinda K
I'll start with the one reason I decided to give this book 4 stars instead of 5. It's not a huge fault and did not interfere with my enjoyment of the book. I simply thought it raised questions about how Banks constructed the plot: there are three or four huge coincidences--mostly involving chance meetings or people just happening to be in the right place at the right time--that move the plot along at various points. It's not impossible to imagine any one of them happening; it's simply a small st...more
Adam Prouse
The theme in this book was that a parent not guiding there children to succeed and not being in control can cause the child to do bad things and commit crimes. In the book the main character, Chapie, is caught shop lifting at the mall. Instead of his mother punishing him and telling him what he needs to do to succeed in the world she gives him money when he demands it and lets him free on society to do as he pleases such as do drugs. This illustrates that with a mother not being in control or le...more
Being 14 years old, homeless, and having no income sounds like a horrible life and when you hear someone lived that life you probably won't believe it. Chappie from the novel "Rule Of The Bone" by Russell Banks tells you his story about how he made one mistake and that changed his life forever.
He leaves his house and has no where to go except to his older friends who aren't the best influences. He has to move around and around cause he has no permanant place and has to hide from everyone that c...more
Rule of the Bone by Russell Banks is a compelling fictional tale about a teenager named Chappie, who runs away from home due to boiling tension with his parents. It it set in modern day Upstate, New York. Chappie's issue was mainly towards his step-father Ken, who sexually abused him as a child. Upon Chappie's departure from home, he finds himself scrounging for money and food with his older, yet misguided best friend Russ. Chappie and Russ both encounter situations which are very uncommon for 1...more

"Rule of the Bone" By Russell Banks this book is more or less realistic fiction. "Rule of the Bone" off the back approachs the issue of Neglect and a family's darkside. Chappie is abused by his stepfather sexually which leads him to indulge in smoking marijuana on a daily basis and not being able to show who he really is in fear of being judged for the truth, he rather be judged for a lie.

Chappie's relationship with his mother faces struggles throughout the book due to the fact that she is kep...more
By: Russell Banks Pages:390

Rule of the Bone by Russell Banks is about a boy named Chappie Dorset. the book is set in upstate new york where Chappie lives with his mother and step-father. In the beginning of the book we are told that Chappie's step-father has been repeatedly sexually abusing him. This really impacted Chappie because he was unable to trust people and began to be a rebel at a very young age. This rebellion lead to Chappie being thrown out of his house. With no where to go and nobod...more
Lee Krieger
I'd give a mixed review for this book. As many others have alluded to, it is a tale that seems split into two unequal halves. The first part floats along and you begin to understand Bone's struggle and root for his emancipation from an obvious dysfunctional, abusive family situation. Likewise, his adventures with the bikers, the Bong Brothers and Buster Brown/Sister Rose are all interesting enough to make you keep the pages turning. However, I tend to agree with the bulk of other reviewers who f...more
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Russell Banks is a member of the International Parliament of Writers and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His work has been translated into twenty languages and has received numerous international prizes and awards. He has written fiction, and more recently, non-fiction, with Dreaming up America. His main works include the novels Continental Drift, Rule of the Bone, Cloudsplit...more
More about Russell Banks...
The Sweet Hereafter Lost Memory of Skin Cloudsplitter Affliction Continental Drift

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“Go, my book, and help destroy the world as it is.” 6 likes
“But when you’re a kid it’s like you’re wearing these binoculars strapped to your eyes and you can’t see anything except what’s in the dead center of the lenses” 6 likes
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