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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  ·  6,205 ratings  ·  569 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
A cross between Holden Caulfield, Christopher McCandless, and Henry Fielding for the 90's..., a picaresque Bildungsroman..., Chappie (the Bone) is a young abused mall rat/homeless fuck'd-up kid who comes of age by traveling between sin and the stars. Banks is a masterful writer -- and this book's strength is that it is written entirely (in first person) in Chappie's voice -- and never waivers or has a false note...
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.
Megan Ivy
If I could give it a zero, I would. Coming of age??? Really? This 14 year old child is heavy into weed, alcohol, and crime. Readers are supposed to understand his plight because of his horrible childhood. His choices, understandable. Should I be ok with them? NO!! And nothing changes by the end. I can handle books that make one think or that touch on hard subjects. This one crosses a line, and I don't understand how it is called a great American novel.
Tyler Jones
Any novel featuring a precocious and cynical young narrator is going to be compared to Catcher in the Rye, but in this case the comparison is valid. Like Holden, Bone has a strong, likeable personality, and even though you'd like to slap him upside the head, you also love him.

There is such authenticity in Bone's voice that many young readers are completely sucked into this book - to the point where the narrator and the author are confused. I met Russell Banks in 1998 when he toured to promote C
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.
Aaron Bunce
Rule of the Bone is an intriguing field study into the human coping mechanism. Chappy, also known as Bone is a damaged young man. He is the product of a broken family, sexual abuse, drugs, and parental apathy. His story is one of self discovery, maturation, and the loss of innocence. With that said, I found Rule of the Bone a fairly engaging read, not without its difficulties. It is told from the perspective of an under educated, drug using 14 year old boy, so naturally the language itself is go ...more
Rule Of The Bone cracked my shit up and also made me cry a little. Bone is the nickname of this scrawny little fourteen-year-old boy with a shitty home life. He ends up running away from home, makes a few nutty friends, and moves into a school bus with a Rastafari man who ends up taking Bone to Jamaica at some point in the book where he actually is reunited with his biological father. It's funny, infuriating, and touching all at the same time and at certain points.

This is one of my many favourit
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
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
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
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
(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
Tripp Moultrie
Difficult read at times but Russell Banks does a great job delivering a gritty look at what it means to be a lost teen-aged soul in America. Written almost entirely with no punctuation, Russell Bank's style is casual but poignant. He follows the life of Chappie, a young teen as he flirts with a life of crime. Before long he meets a Rastafarian called I-Man who shows him there's more to life.

I dug this one for a few reasons, though it's for everyone. The story recounts incidents of child abuse, d
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

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
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
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
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
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
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
Jul 06, 2015 Stephanie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Zoe S.
Recommended to Stephanie by: Technically, my English Teacher xD
'Rule of The Bone' had a gritty, and compelling narrative, with an interesting protagonist, and a well-paced plot-line.
I think Banks did an excellent job in giving a voice, and some depth, to a character who would be seen as a nobody by societal standards. If people were to witness a mohawked teenager dealing weed, they would merely sneer at him with utter disdain, but Banks reminds us that indeed, these people are human beings who have their anxieties, dreams and moral dilemmas as well. I lik
I am a Banks fan, and while this was not as deep and wrenching as "Continental Drift" or "Affliction", it was still a powerful narrative. Here he takes on a very different aspect of contemporary life - a difficult aspect for a middle-aged writer - and does an admirable job. This book tells the story of a 15 year-old boy who runs away from an unhappy home and finds himself in one mess after another. The novel contains echoes of "Huckleberry Finn" mixed with "On The Road". The story is told in the ...more
Christian Schwoerke
Russel Banks' fourteen-year-old Bone is a latter day Holden Caulfield—aware of the phoniness and empty, sordid posturing of adults—and he's also a Huck Finn, lighting out from the strictures of conventional society.

Bone tells his story in an unselfconscious manner, a naive narrator telling the story straight. He leaves his troubled family (with a contemptible, sexually abusive step-father), lives alongside a larcenous motorcycle gang till a fire leaves their leader dead. He and his buddy fear t
Christian Dibblee
If there's one thing I can say that is positive about this book, it's the author's willingness to take a young kid clearly at the bottom of society and help him to find himself. And yes, Chappie is portrayed as clearly a guy who's down on his luck.

After that, however, the book becomes an utter mess. First, we as readers are supposed to sympathize with Chappie, as his life totally sucks and yet he's been able to find good friends in life. But, the character is totally unsympathetic. He's totally
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
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Mrs.Shiels' Honor...: Rule of the Bone 5 14 Jun 01, 2014 07:43PM  
"Working-class Catcher in the Rye"? 8 24 Oct 23, 2013 05:29PM  
English 11 4 A/C: The rule of the bone 1 6 Oct 04, 2012 11:09AM  
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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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“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” 7 likes
“They were totally alone, those kids, like each had been accidentally sent to earth from a distant planet to live among adult humans and be dependent on them for everything because compared to the adult humans they were extremely fragile creatures and didn't know the language or how anything here worked and hadn't arrived with any money. And because they were like forbidden by the humans to use their old language they'd forgotten it so they couldn't be much company or help to each other either. They couldn't even talk about the old days and so pretty soon they forgot there ever were any old days and all there was now was life on earth with adult humans who called them children and acted toward them like they owned them and like they were objects not living creatures with souls.” 5 likes
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