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Rocks In The Belly

3.55  ·  Rating Details ·  298 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
How far can you push a child?
Rocks in the Belly is about a precocious eight-year-old boy and the volatile adult he becomes. During childhood his mother fosters boys, despite the jealous turmoil it arouses in her son. Jealousy that reaches unmanageable proportions when she fosters Robert, an amiable child she can’t help bonding with. Until the bond triggers an event that pr
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 2nd 2010 by Scribe Publications Pty Ltd
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(showing 1-30 of 611)
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Janelle Dazzlepants
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The Blurb Radio Show
Review by Bernard Ryan

Jon Bauer “Rocks In The Belly”, Scribe, rrp $34-95, pp 296.

Again we have a first novel, with a front-cover blurb by acclaimed South-African-born, lately ‘naturalised’ Australian, J. M. Coetzee. And the novel was to be launched in Melbourne Monday night by Cate Kennedy, novelist, whose work we have discussed on this program. Jon is off to a flying start and, by and large, his novel deserves it.

His is one of he most polished works of fiction I have rad this year. As is not un
Blue Eyed Vixen
I listened to the audiobook of Rocks in the Belly, which was read by the author, and I must say that he weaves a compelling tale.

The POV swings between the 8 year old child of parents who forster an endless string of boys, to the 28 year old who has returned to care for his terminally ill mother with the hopes that he will vindicate himself of the years his mother treated him more like a second-class citizen while she lavishes the broken children with her affection.

His story was a rollercoaster
Jan 07, 2015 Lena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romane, 2015
"Meine Kindheit lauert in mir, wie geballte Fäuste in meinen Händen lauern"

Jon Bauer gibt in seinem Debütroman die erdrückende und von Selbstzweifeln geprägte Kindheit des Ich-Erzählers wieder und erzählt von den Narben, welche diese in seinem Leben hinterlassen hat.

Den Namen des Protagonisten erfährt man nicht – bei neuen Bekanntschaften stellt er sich als „Michael“ vor. Nach jahrelangem Aufenthalt in Kanada, kehrt der 28-jährige Ich-Erzähler in sein Elternhaus zurück, um seine kranke Mutter zu
Aug 27, 2010 Danielle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
From the back cover:
How far can you push a child? Rocks in the Belly is about a precocious eight-year-old boy and the volatile adult he becomes. During childhood his mother fosters boys, despite the jealous turmoil it arouses in her son. Jealousy that reaches unmanageable proportions when she fosters Robert, an amiable child she can't help bonding with. Until the bond triggers an event that profoundly changes everyone. Especially Robert. At twenty-eight the son returns to face his mother. He ha
Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum
Aug 11, 2012 Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum rated it really liked it
Rocks in the Belly is narrated by an eight year old boy, an only child desperate for his parents' affections. His mother brings in foster boys which incites a fierce and sometimes dark jealousy. Possessive of his mother's attention, her son does whatever he can to monopolise her affections and when Robert joins their family, all this is set to escalate.

Originally from the UK, but now an Australian citizen living in Melbourne, it's hard to believe this is Jon Bauer's first novel. I read a sample
May 26, 2013 Gary rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 27, 2011 Hayley rated it it was amazing
Rocks in the Belly tells the story of a disturbed child and the troubled, vengeful man he becomes. The book is written jointly by the child who, arguably, is not born bad but becomes bad through the torment of having to share the love of his parents with foster children, and the man who lives with the repercussions of this jealousy and anger. At its very essence Rocks in the Belly details the conflict between the robot and the monster in their struggle to be loved.

It is deeply confronting - at t
Kirsten Krauth
Feb 03, 2013 Kirsten Krauth rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites

I remember first encountering Jon Bauer in a session, with Fiona McGregor, at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival on writing about mothers. As you know, this is a topic that continues to engage me (on many levels) and I was intrigued because it was unusual to have a male panellist (a refreshing change, actually), and he spoke eloquently about writing female characters.

After his debut novel, Rocks in the Belly, was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Awar
Feb 08, 2015 Maria rated it liked it
How far can you push a child?
Rocks in the belly is about the breakdown of a family, the destruction that occurs in the pursuit of happiness and how a family unit can sometimes be a dangerous place for a child.

It is difficult to write a review on this book without giving away too many spoilers as the fine details are necessary to the story. It is basically a story told alternatively through the eyes of an eight year old boy and his adult counter part, of his experience living with boys that his m
Jan 19, 2016 Lisa rated it really liked it
Recommended to Lisa by: ANZ LitLovers Yahoo Reading Group
This book is going to be a very good choice for book group discussion! Rocks in the Belly is Jon Bauer’s first novel, and it raises all kinds of issues to test the passions of its readers…

To see my review please visit
Mar 11, 2013 Anne rated it it was ok
An easy to read & quite well written book but a bit too dark for me. I found it difficult to identify with the main character who is not at all likeable. I spent a lot of the book wondering what mental illness he was suffering from! Turns out he was just selfish & masochistic.
Renée Heaton
Oct 05, 2014 Renée Heaton rated it it was amazing
There is something amazing about debut novels. The author seems more patient somehow and the story and characters are given time to expand and grow. This is an awesome read and I'll tell you why- the story is frenetic, it's harsh at times and feels like it's going a million miles an hour and while you think you've read about 20 pages you've actually just read a paragraph. That's how clever this patient author is, he has the time and passion to carefully craft each word and, while we switch betwe ...more
Dec 06, 2011 Marg rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
I don't think it would be possible to read this book and not have some kind of reaction - whether it be tears, anger, disgust or whatever.

Unnamed, unlikeable narrator.
Chee Chee
Aug 19, 2011 Chee Chee rated it it was ok
I admire his writing but I disliked the main character so much that I couldn't really enjoy the read.
Jan 01, 2011 Judith rated it it was ok

A well written book, but I struggled greatly with the nasty man that the nasty boy grew into.
Too troubling. Can't finish. Very well written.
Judith Yeabsley
Jan 15, 2015 Judith Yeabsley rated it it was amazing
This book was shocking, sad, disturbing, frightening and very funny. It follows a disturbed 8 year boy and his experience as an only child sharing his parents with foster children and then his return at 28 to face his mother and his demons. The narration switches between child and man and is often very amusing whilst also being incredibly sad and more than anything disturbing. A total emotional rollercoaster topped off by the harrowing final chapters. Who is to blame? Can life ever be black and ...more
Banafsheh Serov
May 20, 2012 Banafsheh Serov rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bookgroup
A disturbing yet touching account of disintegration of a family. The narrative unfolds through two timelines, touching on human insecurities,guilt,jealousy, vengence and love.

Rocks in the Belly follows an extrovert eight year old boy resentful at having to share his parents' (especially his mother's)love and attention with foster boys living with them. This jealousy reaches unmanageable proportions at the arrival of Robert, leading to an act that leaves a lasting and damaging mark on all of the
Aug 07, 2012 Garry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rocks in the Belly explores the fractured relationship between a mother and son. She has a compulsion to be foster troubled boys, but fails to notice that the love and attention she devotes to them comes at the cost of her son. He is eight years old when Robert arrives, the latest in a string of foster boys to enter the family. His jealosy curls like a snake within him, and bursts out with an ever-increasing frequency and intensity.

The son is our unnamed narrator. We hear from him as both a chil
Apr 27, 2011 Jenny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Writers (for study purposes), those who don't get enough of the worst of life in the everyday.
Recommended to Jenny by: Courier Mail review
Shelves: 2010
Put simply, this is a masterpiece. If only this calibre of writing got published then I'd quit yesterday--happily.

This is the story of an un-named man who returns home to be with his mother in her dying days. This is also the story of that man as a child, growing up with somewhat occupied parents, and in particular a mother who is devoted to the point of obsession with fostering troubled boys. (I would describe this as Mother & Son where the son is the devil child, Damien.) But as repellent
Mar 18, 2013 Maeve rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 09, 2013 Tonymess rated it liked it
This one has left me in a real quandary, at stages I was entranced and couldn’t put the book down, at other times I was enraged and wanted to throw it across the room, and even at one stage I was going to give up. But one thing is certain the story haunts your thoughts and you spend large chunks of your non reading time thinking about the main character.

Many times in recent years we have examples of authors using a child’s voice to tell their tale (think “Pigeon English”, “Room”, “Vernon God Lit
Mar 06, 2011 jeniwren rated it liked it
This is a debut novel which raises many questions about the human condition. Our narrator is both a boy and a grown man and during his childhood his parents choose to foster children. When Robert comes into their home this causes fits of jealousy and difficult sadistic behaviour that one day results in a tragic event. In alternate chapters we are in the present with the troubled and angry young man who returns home to face his ailing mother.
Throughout the narrator remains nameless which is a pow
May 28, 2011 Kate rated it really liked it
Rocks in the Belly was extremely well written, I enjoyed it thoroughly. Bauer is able to make the reader feel both pity, disgust and admiration for the boy in this book, both as a 8 year old and a 28 year old, and of course with his mother Mary, the foster mother who neglected her own son in order to give troubled young boys the care and attention they deserved. I had a love/hate relationship with the boy, feeling sorry for him then hating him for torturing his poor cat Alfie. That definately ma ...more
Ben Langdon
Oct 01, 2013 Ben Langdon rated it it was amazing
This was recommended to me by a writing instructor, as a particularly good example of unique narrative voice as well as imaginative use of figurative language - and boy, was it fun coming across the similes and metaphors. :)

I think the most powerful thing about this book is that the things that happened to the eight year old narrator were so believable and easy to imagine (especially given that I have an eight year old myself). It made what happened next so chillingly heart aching.

I won't give a
Dec 01, 2011 Jacki rated it did not like it
I'm not sure what to make of this book. Whilst I found the style very easy to read the subject and characters were awful. Surprisingly I wasn't moved by either the son or the mother and was left thinking both of them were not particularly likeable people. The mother clearly was suffering from the loss of a child and was in someway endeavouring to replace when from my view all she had to do was embrace what she had rather than more. The son - born bad or became bad? couldn't decide but thought if ...more
May 14, 2016 Cathy rated it really liked it
Narrated by an 8 year old boy and the 28 year old man he has become, I was very conflicted by this book. Most of the time I detested the boy (and his adult self) but I couldn't put it down. I think it would make an interesting book club read.

Dec 30, 2012 Jane rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
Rocks in the Belly, is a troubling book about a family told from the perspective of a young man who has come home to look after his terminally ill mother from who he has been estranged. The book switches back and forth from age 8 to 28 and through this device we are given hints and insights into the relationship that he has with his mother and with his father. His parents foster troubled boys and it is the jealousy that this creates in him that is the impetus for his increasingly brattish behavi ...more
Jul 07, 2011 Ursula rated it it was ok
Shelves: australian
Interesting debut novel about an 8-year old boy who struggles with having to share his parents, especially his Mum, with a row of foster children. A quiet sensitive boy called Robert appears to be a particular threat to the unnamed protagonist and calls for special measures. Years later, when he returns to visit his terminally ill mother, the line between who is the victim and who the offender starts to blur.
Switching between the 8-year old's voice and his 'grown-up' self with each chapter, the
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Jon Bauer has written short stories and plays for stage and radio. Rocks in the Belly is his first novel and won the 2011 Indie Award for Best Debut Fiction. It was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award.
More about Jon Bauer...

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