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The Bone Cage

3.49  ·  Rating Details  ·  832 Ratings  ·  107 Reviews
Digger, an 85 kilo wrestler, and Sadie, a 26-year-old speed swimmer, stand on the verge of realizing every athlete's dream--winning a gold medal at the Olympics. Both athletes are nearing the end of their athletic careers, and are forced to confront the question: what happens to athletes when their bodies are too old and injured to compete? The blossoming relationship betw ...more
Paperback, 235 pages
Published July 1st 2007 by NeWest (first published August 17th 2006)
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Top reads for sports fans
137th out of 596 books — 596 voters
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Canada Reads: All Nominees and Winners
46th out of 87 books — 47 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,546)
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Jan 29, 2011 Jen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
There's a difference between fact and truth, and fact doesn't matter in fiction writing, but truth does. Abdou writes something along that line in her acknowledgements, and it's clear how well that method works in this story of two Olympic hopefuls training in Calgary for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. These are fictional characters, but felt so true to read about. Every smell, sight, and sensation is described, making it so easy to believe in and empathize with Sadie and Digger and all they go throu ...more
Kristene Perron
Dec 10, 2012 Kristene Perron rated it it was amazing
All I knew about The Bone Cage, when I picked it up, was that it had something to do with Olympic swimming. How surprised I was to find, in those pages, vivid memories of my own past brought to life, with stunning realism, and characters who embodied both the glory and tragedy of sport.

The beauty of The Bone Cage is its deceptive simplicity. This is the story of two aspiring Olympic athletes, Sadie and Digger, facing the end of their competitive journey. One last chance to try for Olympic gold,
Mar 18, 2011 Joanie rated it really liked it
Shelves: canlit, sports, 2011
I only knew about this book through Canada Reads, and this is the third one I've read, with The Complete Essex County and The Best Laid Plans to go. Having heard the radio debates before reading this, I did keep in mind that this didn't get a very positive reception from the judges, but after reading it, that is a disappointment because like Georges Laraque said, this is quite an accessible book. And although by the end of the week that word did seem to carry a negative connotation, I don't mean ...more
Sep 13, 2015 Magdelanye rated it liked it
Libraries, like most stores, usually have a row of temptations close by the check out. It is here that even those who have managed to be disciplined whilst browsing for the items on their list, sometimes succumb.
So I plucked this book from the shelf, the Canada Reads certificate on the cover giving me some kind of endorsement to add to my pile which now exceeded my self imposed limit of 6 books per visit.
The cover itself is lovely, an undulating blue revealing a swimmer underwater, and the titl
Nov 26, 2010 Pooker rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Pooker by: Canada Reads
Having just read Trevor Cole's *Norman Bray in the Performance of His Life* and come to the shocking conclusion that I might be just as self-absorbed as Norman, I am, nevertheless, going to begin this review in just such a way.

I am a woman of a certain age, as women of a certain age are apt to say, but despite that I still harbour what some might say is an unrealistic notion that I will yet compete in the Olympics.

My siblings would not find this notion odd or unrealistic in any way, even as they
brian dean
May 14, 2014 brian dean rated it it was amazing
I chased the Olympic Dream when I was younger and really, l now, in reading this book, realized how mildly I did so. The characters in this book are all working to prepare for the Olympics and struggling with training injuries, family crises and the rest. Yet, the book is not melodramatic. The problems the athletes face are not over-the-top and they don't solve all of them, either. Good luck at the Olympics, Digger.
Aug 05, 2012 Peachyteachy rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! I read it last year and it still resonates with me, particularly right now during the Olympics. I love the way you smell the pool and feel the pain and sweat of the athletes during training - all because Abdou writes so sensuously. Pick this quick read up if you haven't already read it.
Jan 21, 2011 Kay rated it liked it
I found this such an interesting look at the lives of these two athletes - their goals, daily schedules, relationships with their families, and how they see themselves (and are seen by others). I agree with L that there is a lot to talk about with the ending....
Sharon Stoneman
May 26, 2011 Sharon Stoneman rated it really liked it
Every so many years the Olympics rolls around and we cheer on our athletes, moaning when they don't perform to expectations, celebrating their successes. And when the games are over we return to our lives and, for the most part, don't think about those athletes until the next round of competition. We all love the hard luck story, the competitor who overcomes incredible odds to compete and even win. But we really don't have any idea of what it actually takes to compete at that level.

Angie Abdou g
Oct 21, 2008 Johnna rated it it was amazing
couldn't put this book down. It's the first time in ages I've stayed up all night reading. Finally, there's a book where we actually care about the characters -- where they come alive as real flawed (yet loveable) humanbeings. The Bone Cage is set in the context of elite athletics and captures the physicality, sensuality, and euphoric highs of amateur sport, as well the darker, cruel side of sport programs. With realism and humour, author Angie Abdou captures athletes on the brink of that transi ...more
Feb 19, 2011 AtHomeNow rated it it was amazing
Shelves: multiple-pov
I enjoyed The Bone Cage by Angie Abdou on many levels.

I enjoyed my hunt for the book in Chapters. I couldn't remember what the novel was called or the author's name as I raced around Chapter's in the last 15 minutes of the store being open. I remembered the cover was blue. Then my husband and I were talking and he said the word bone in our conversation, which triggered my memory that I was looking for The Bone Cage. I ran over to the computer and typed in The Bone Cage, found the author's last n
Mar 15, 2011 Stephanie rated it did not like it
Oh my, this book was so bad on so many levels. I chose to read it b/c it was nominated for the Canada Reads debates, but it didn't come into library in time anyway, yet I continued to read it. The Canadian author was just trying way too hard to do a Canadian novel that it is almost a parody. Also, the story is about two Calgary athletes training for the Olympics, but the training and descriptions are just way too detailed for the average reader, and I found myself not caring at all. The characte ...more
Ruth Seeley
Nov 28, 2010 Ruth Seeley rated it really liked it
Abdou tackles some profound issues here, not least of which (and I don't mean this to sound facetious), are: what matters more, strength or speed? Speed or flexibility? Is winning everything? Or the only thing? Should it be? And, on a deeper level, when should you push through pain - both mental and physical - and when should you stop and pay attention to it? The alternating chapters of linear narrative told from two Olympic athletes' POVs is an interesting technique and one I'd like to see more ...more
Steven Langdon
Dec 20, 2011 Steven Langdon rated it really liked it
"The Bone Cage" was chosen as one of the CBC's Canada Reads selections for 2011, underlining how fine a novel it is. Set in the competitive world of high-performance sports, the book focuses on Digger, a wrestler, and Sadie, a swimmer, both preparing for the Olympics. The search for success drives both, yet their lives, and the novel, become charged by their relationship with each other -- each are drawn to the other by physical desire that is deepened further by their recognition of their commo ...more
Mar 05, 2011 Tessa rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book much more than I expected to. I felt that the descriptions I'd heard of it were not an accurate representation of the main story. This was advantageous to me since I felt I could relate to it more this way. I thought that the author chose to include specific aspects and end the story at an interesting place. This, for me tied in with one of the points the book was making. I read this for Canada Reads this year, and I would recommend this book to others. Don't be deterred by t ...more
Hayley Dube
Oct 15, 2012 Hayley Dube rated it really liked it
Great read. Book was very interesting. Digger is a wrestler striving to become an Olympian and go to the Olympics in Sidney. Sadie is a swimmer who practices two times a day for two hours every time, on her spare time she works at the cage and lifts weights. That's where she meets Digger another fellow Olympian from Calgary. My favorite part was when Digger and Sadie were together. This book is full of hardships an athlete has to deal with.
Oct 08, 2008 Rebecca rated it really liked it
The characters in The Bone Cage jump off the page at you. I read this book in one sitting right before the Beijing olympics - it's addictive, engrossing and even informative. The theme is obviously sports, but there's a great human dynamic too that would fit in with lots of genres, makes it an easy fit nomatter what you like to read. Really enjoyed it.
Alison DeLory
Jul 12, 2012 Alison DeLory rated it really liked it
It took my a while to become immersed, but once that happened I speed read to the end. The timing of my reading this book, in the weeks leading up to the Olympics, helped me enjoy it more since it is about two athletes training for the Games. What I enjoyed the most was learning about the rigours of training, both physically and mentally.
Jan 27, 2011 Kiley rated it really liked it
A visceral book that almost makes you sweat along with the two athletes as they train for the Olympics. I enjoyed its non-Can-litness and almost masculine tone/style; definitely different from what I normally read. I found it really grew on me and that I appreciate it more after finishing than at certain points in the book.
Linda Godsoe Ewart
Oct 31, 2015 Linda Godsoe Ewart rated it it was amazing
Loved this little book and find myself still thinking of it (always a good sign it's made an impression on me). The writing is direct and spare and the story is one that makes one think about those things that drive us, and perhaps more importantly WHY they do.
Jun 26, 2011 Johanna rated it really liked it
I love books that open another world to me and this one did. I could relate to the reinventing yourself. A passion is a passion and we are often driven by them and lost when they come to naught.
Dec 29, 2013 Nicola rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013-books
While I enjoyed this book in many ways, there were other ways in which the book held little appeal. While I am not an athlete, my children are involved in competitive sports. One dreams of becoming an Olympian herself, and perhaps I viewed this story with that in mind.
I could feel the grit and determination emanating from both Sade and Digger. The hours of practice, the physical and emotional involvement in their training was palpable. I felt that I was viewing my child a few years down the roa
Iona Turner
Jul 20, 2015 Iona Turner rated it it was ok
I read this book based on how much I loved her recent book, Between. This one is nowhere near as good. In fact it's not really very good at all. Tells me way more than I ever care to know about Olympic level wrestling and swimming, and the story is just not interesting enough to carry that tedium. Also, somebody please tell this author and her editor that the country is spelled Colombia, not Columbia. The first time I thought it was a typo that got missed, but it was spelled wrong consistently.
Amanda Leduc
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Allegra Young
Jun 25, 2012 Allegra Young rated it really liked it
Shelves: can-lit, canada-reads, own
Yes, I watch some sports. Football (my boyfriend is a die-hard Pats fan), soccer (when it's the World/Euro Cup), baseball (when I'm at a Jays game), hockey (I am Canadian, after all) and, lastly, the Olympics. Every four years I start going to TSN more often to read up on who's still around from the last Olympics and what chances Canada has a winning a medal. From these habits, I would say that I'm a sports fan when it "matters". It's entertainment for me, and rarely do I think of what actually ...more
Rick MacDonnell
Jan 01, 2015 Rick MacDonnell rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: People unfamiliar with, but who are curious about, amateur sport
Recommended to Rick by: Canada Reads 2011
On the face of it, it's understandable that Angie Abdou's The Bone Cagewas selected for Canada Reads 2011. For the past 18 months or so, Canada has been somewhat infatuated by the Olympics and its amateur athletes (an appreciation long overdue). But after reading the novel I have to say I'm stunned that it was selected by the public as one of Canada's top 40 novels of the decade, and I'm absolutely shocked it made it into the final five. The Bone Cageis a decent novel, and that's as far as I'd t ...more
May 01, 2013 Vicki rated it liked it
The Bone Cage by Angie Abdou is about young and not-so-young elite athletes striving for their own pinnacle, a place on the Canadian Olympic team. The story is traced compellingly through the alternating and eventually intersecting trajectories of speed swimmer Sadie and wrestler Tom (Digger to family, friends and teammates). Abdou draws persuasively on her own competitive sports background (she swims at the Masters level, her brother was an Olympic wrestler) to build a convincing and approachab ...more
Annette LeBox
May 04, 2012 Annette LeBox rated it liked it
The Bone Cage by Angie Abdou is about two elite athletes near the end of their careers. Sadie, a speed swimmer, and Digger, a wrestler, dream of winning Olympic medals. The story gives the reader a glimpse into the sacrifices and dedication necessary for an athlete to reach the top of their game. The descriptions of the grueling workouts, lack of sleep and the hard choices the two athletes have to make are realistically described by Adbou. It’s not surprising that Abdou has been a speed swimmer ...more
Ien van Houten
Dec 27, 2012 Ien van Houten rated it it was ok
You will enjoy this quick easy read IF you have always wondered about the lives of high-class athletes or if you have one in your life.
The Bone Cage follows two devoted athletes at a crucial moment in their career: the last chance to make it to the 2000 Olympics.

Sadie, 26, is a swimmer, thirty-one year old Thomas AKA Digger has devoted his life to wrestling. Much of the book consists of minutely detailed descriptions of the grueling practices that consume their lives. There is a bit of plot, so
Jul 05, 2013 Shannon rated it liked it
This wasn't a bad book. Some plot devices seemed a little manipulative but sometimes you need some event to show another perspective. Its interesting reading some of the other reviews who felt that the workout descriptions were "way too descriptive". I actually was surprised that there was not more about the physical aspects of training to be an elite athlete but I guess really, the book is more about what happens next. The retired swimmer was fairly annoying and I wish she would have left her a ...more
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ELEVEN READERS CL...: Critical Assessment and Analysis on the book; The Bone Cage 2 18 Jan 17, 2012 07:41PM  
ELEVEN READERS CL...: The Bone Cage; 203-233 1 6 Jan 15, 2012 07:10AM  
ELEVEN READERS CL...: The Bone Cage; 125-202 1 3 Jan 15, 2012 07:03AM  
ELEVEN READERS CL...: The Bone Cage; 59-124 1 4 Jan 05, 2012 03:30PM  
ELEVEN READERS CL...: The Bone Cage; 1-58 1 6 Jan 05, 2012 03:24PM  
ELEVEN READERS CL...: Rationale 1 7 Jan 05, 2012 03:12PM  
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Angie Abdou was born and raised in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. She received an Honours B.A. in English from the University of Regina, an M.A. from the University of Western Ontario, and a Ph.D. from the University of Calgary. She now teaches at the College of the Rockies in Cranbrook, British Columbia. She makes her home in Fernie, British Columbia with her husband and two young children. She has pub ...more
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“she won’t be making evening practice either, then rolls over, pulling her duvet high up around her ears. She feels vaguely surprised that it’s so easy. She’s reminded of her favourite Yeats poem: Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold. Her brain thick with sleep, the idea of Marcus as a falconer strikes her as quite profound. This far from Marcus, she wonders how he ever had such a hold over her. The thought sleepily occurs to her that she may never get out of bed, never return to the pool, again. As she has always suspected, the first practice was the hardest to miss and after that one slip, the whole foundation of her training discipline would come crashing down, falling apart around her. The slacker in her would take over. Yes, the pool, always her centre, has lost its hold. What, she wonders, has held the whole thing together this long? I have an intense burning desire to be a champion. That was the phrase she learned at National Youth Team swim camps. I have an intense burning desire to be a champion. They repeated the mantra over and over—a room full of fourteen-year-olds chanting the words in unison. I have an intense burning desire to be a champion. After” 0 likes
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