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Those Bones Are Not My Child

3.58  ·  Rating Details ·  238 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
Written over a span of twelve years, and edited by Toni Morrison, who calls Those Bones Are Not My Child the author's magnum opus, Bambara's last novel leaves us with an enduring and revelatory chronicle of an American nightmare.

In a suspenseful novel of uncommon depth and intensity, Toni Cade Bambara renders a harrowing portrait of a city under siege. Having elected its f
Paperback, 688 pages
Published October 24th 2000 by Vintage (first published 1999)
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May 27, 2008 Maureen rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: novel
There is no doubt that this is a hard book to read. It takes place in Atlanta during the time of the Atlanta Child Murders. I guess I like this book more than most people, because I feel that Bambara did a good job of capturing the fear and tumult that Atlanta experienced. I still have my "Save the Children" button, that many people took to wearing as some sign of solidarity during those traumatic times. It didn't matter, though, we were all looking at each other with wary eyes. Bambara also dep ...more
Courtney H.
Jan 04, 2015 Courtney H. rated it liked it
Bambara died before she could finish this book, written and researched over a 15-year period. I would have liked to see what Bambara might have done with the editing process herself. Her friend, Toni Morrison, did the final edits, and it is clear that Morrison felt uncomfortable about making the cuts or decisions that the author herself might have made. I don't blame Morrison--Bambara is a master, and this was the work of a lifetime. How do you cut her words down? But I can't help but think that ...more
Mar 03, 2009 Colleen rated it it was ok
Interesting subject, tedious presentation.
Jul 25, 2015 Alexa rated it it was ok
Shelves: fab-15, summer-15
This started off beautifully, yet I found it degenerating into a confusing mess. At times it is a glorious weaving, and at other times it’s a giant knot of confusing threads with no coherent whole. Her weaving is beautiful, in fact her individual threads are beautiful, but all too often I was left confused and frustrated. She is at her best when writing of the individual lives, the interpersonal relationships, the meaning of family. She is at her worst attempting to convey facts, hints of possib ...more
Aug 19, 2015 J.E. rated it really liked it
“Lady, Black boys getting killed in the South just ain’t news.”
“And girls,” she inserted. “And women and men.”
“I know how you feel, but I don’t make network policy. The news of the moment is Iran, when it’s not the election or stories about international terrorism.”

Sounds like it could be this morning’s news. But it’s 1980 in Atlanta, and more than forty black children have in fact been murdered, in a pattern that can be traced around “the city too busy to hate.” This novel, Toni Cade Bambara’s
Mar 05, 2014 J rated it it was amazing
(FROM JACKET)"Those Bones Are Not My Child" is a staggering achievement: the novel that Toni Cade Bambara worked on for twelve years until her death in 1995-a story that puts us at the center of the nightmare of the Atlanta child murders.

It was called "The City Too Busy To Hate", but two decades ago more than forty black children were murdered there with grim determination, their bodies found-in ditches, on riverbeds-strangled, beaten, and sexually assaulted. Bambara was living in Atlanta at th
Mar 22, 2014 Latiffany rated it did not like it
I wrote a long review about this book and magically it disappeared. I'm taking that as a sign to be brief about my feelings regarding this book and move on to the next novel that awaits me.

This isn't a good read. It is way too long and rather than focusing on the plot it reads like research on the Atlanta Child Murders instead of the novel that it presents itself to be. The characters seem to be thrown in as needed and the main character-the missing son- is rarely even focused on. The book comp
Mar 09, 2013 Susan rated it it was amazing
I have been looking at this book on my shelf for some years. I love the work of Toni Cade Bambara, especially her previous novel, The Salt Eaters. Those Bones is not an easy read, but it is an extraordinary one. It is the story of one woman, one family, one city and indeed all of the USA. The story is about a spate of murders that occurred in Atlanta n the early 1980s. More than 40 black children were abducted, sexually abused, beaten and murdered. But the establishment deemed them runaways and ...more
Tiffany Anderson
Jan 02, 2016 Tiffany Anderson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished
A necessary read but difficult to follow. This work parallels reality and lets us know the more things change, the more things stay the same. I've always wanted to know what follow through, if any, occurred with this case. From this novel, I know those families never stopped searching for answers and justice.
Bernard Norcott-mahany
Dec 15, 2016 Bernard Norcott-mahany rated it really liked it
The book seemed a bit long, and the middle section seemed to drag a lot. The work was not edited when the author died, and one cannot think but that Bambara would have tightened up the work quite a bit. The opening section and the concluding sections, though, are quite compelling.
Jul 16, 2015 Adam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I guess the rating would be closer to a 3 1/2, fwiw.

There's a lot that can go wrong with a book like this. Published posthumously, a book is in danger of either editing away the author's voice, or not editing enough; based on first hand research, a book is in danger of overloading on exposition in order to justify the research; based on a historical event from recent history, a book may have trouble condensing the wider drama onto an individual level, even operating at epic scale.

Those Bones are
Nov 10, 2010 Cabaret25 rated it did not like it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
I actually made it about halfway through the book (though I have no idea how) and had to finally stop.

Some of the language was so graceful, some of the feelings so intense, but overall the book was a effort to read and comprehend. Too many names, too few explanations of those names, too few connections between present and past, no real details.

It seemed as though she was writing from the perspective of mainly the mother and father and it makes total sense that their thoughts would be foggy, ch
Jul 10, 2008 Joolie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: smartie pantsez
Recommended to Joolie by: peta
I have read two books by Toni Cade Bambara, and she was a brilliant writer. So brilliant, that i think she is too smart for me! I love her language but sometimes it was hard to follow for me - more so in The Salt Eaters. She was definitely not fond of the linear and her writings soak up layers and shifting times and characters. In other words, you may need to keep on yr toes. This book is a fictionalized story of true events that happened in and around Atlanta during the late 70's and early 80's ...more
Jan 26, 2008 Eric rated it it was ok
Shelves: black-america
I am pained to say this, but this book was a huge disappointment especially because the subject matter is so important. The book is about the Atlanta about the dark time in Atlanta when over 40 children were killed by a serial killer. After two years of terror, a Black man, Wayne Williams was arrested and convicted. But alot of people think some one else killed these children because there wasn't alot of evidence against Williams. Including the fact that some of the victimes were 18 and much st ...more
Stacy Lewis
Nov 20, 2015 Stacy Lewis rated it liked it
Rambling and confusing. But then, the 2 year period in Atlanta when young black children, mostly boys, disappeared was just that. I remember this event as a peripheral event in my life. But reading the book this year, in the wake of all the videos of brutality and reading Coates' excellent book, reinforced the institutional racism present in this country.

I had always assumed that Wayne Williams was guilty. The police arrested him, and he was convicted, right? This book, although fiction, tells
Apr 07, 2016 Gerry marked it as abandoned
The story had potential, being based in fact and focusing on a series of child-murders that occurred in Atlanta in the late 70s and early 80s. But the writing was too dense, and made the characters too hard to fathom -- or maybe I’m just too dense right now! If there weren’t so many books on my list, I’d consider giving this another try later, but there’s too much good writing out there to waste time slogging through a book that won’t grab me.
Feb 19, 2008 Flora rated it did not like it
Shelves: novels
There is an amazing novel yet to be written about the Atlanta Child Murders, but unfortunately, this isn't it. Although it's appealingly obsessive, it's also undisciplined and, ultimately, incoherent; its energy doesn't appear to be serving anything except unreflective outrage and confusion, and not much comes of anything as a result, which is really too bad. For a brilliant take on the case, see James Baldwin's "The Evidence of Things Not Seen."
Jan 07, 2013 Mavis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this story of a mother's quest for answers in the disappearance of her son very moving and enjoyed the book with one exception...the ending was frustrating.. which is why I only gave it a 4.

***January 2013***
Re-reading. Finding this second reading more pleasurable than I did the first time.
I found that by leaving out chapters like chapter 5 and concentrating on one aspect at a time,makes what can be a confusing read,move along smoothly.
Ryan Mishap
Jan 05, 2009 Ryan Mishap rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
Her last book is a fictionalized account of Atlanta during the early eighties when children were disappearing. I attempted to wade through it and sank quickly. The writing was fine, but put together in a way I couldn't get comfortable with. I could tell the novel was going to be too long so I stopped.
You might have better luck.
Nov 05, 2015 Iris rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
This is not a fun read, but it is an important read. I'm sure the experience of the book will stay with me for a long long time.

Much of the book seems designed to keep the reader confused and off balance, creating an experience rather than a narrative much of the time.
Jul 10, 2007 Matt rated it liked it
Would have been a masterpiece, if Toni Morrison had done her job, which was to EDIT the thing after Bambara died.
Mar 22, 2010 Cheryl marked it as to-read
from an old list: Written over span of 12 years, and edited by Toni Morrison, who calls Those Bones Are Not My Child the author's magnum opus, Toni Cade Bambara's last novel leaves us with an enduring and revelatory chronicle of an American nightmare.
Aug 25, 2015 Jessie rated it really liked it
This is a hard book, but an important one. The clunky nature of the writing is explained by the author passing away before it was edited. I found it easiest to read in small chunks to be sure. It isn't a treat to read, but it will change you.
Jennifer French
Aug 24, 2016 Jennifer French rated it really liked it
Based on a real case of murders in Atlanta in the 1980s, Bambara explores the way in which a community responds to the murders and kidnappings.
Linnja (Lynn)
Jun 02, 2010 Linnja (Lynn) marked it as returned-no-interest  ·  review of another edition
I looked up news articles about the Wayne Williams serial murders and decided I'd read all I needed to know.
Jan 10, 2014 Rani rated it did not like it
I rarely stop once I start a book. I could not get through this. Disjointed, confusing story about the Atlanta child murders.
May 04, 2007 Rita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Horrifying novel of true events, unsolved child murders in Atlanta, police refused to investigate. Gave me my most intimate glimpse into living as an AFrican American in the US.
Rima  Begum
Aug 08, 2011 Rima Begum rated it really liked it
Such a beautiful written book!!!!!

It made me so angry about what happended in atlanta.

The killers are still out there and the authourities know who they are!!!!!!
Jan 10, 2012 Izzy added it
Shelves: savor-the-read
I couldn't finish this novel, but I really wanted to. I can learn a lot from her writing, so I'll keep this and re-read sections for inspiration.
Nov 08, 2013 Katie rated it it was ok
I'm having hard time with this, but I think it'll be worth it in the end. Just not right now. I'm setting it down for a bit.
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Toni Cade Bambara, born Miltona Mirkin Cade (March 25, 1939 – December 9, 1995) was an African-American author, documentary film-maker, social activist and college professor.

Toni Cade Bambara was born in New York City to parents Walter and Helen (Henderson) Cade. She grew up in Harlem, Bedford Stuyvesant (Brooklyn), Queens and New Jersey. In 1970 she changed her name to include the name of a West
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