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Precious Bones

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  364 ratings  ·  68 reviews
Meet ten-year-old Bones, whose playground is the Florida swamps, brimming with mystical witches, black bears, alligators and bobcats. Bones' father, Nolay, a Miccosukee Indian, is smart and mischievous. Her Mama, practical as corn bread, can see straight into Bones' soul.

It's summer, and Bones is busy hunting and fishing with her best friend, Little Man. But then two Yanke
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published May 8th 2012 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
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Christine Fusco If I remember correctly, when she was born, she wasn't able to feed and was scrawny and failing. Her great-grandmother held her and stroked her and…moreIf I remember correctly, when she was born, she wasn't able to feed and was scrawny and failing. Her great-grandmother held her and stroked her and said, "These bones, these precious bones." Miraculously, she did start taking a bottle and the name stuck. Plus, just about everyone in the book has some kind of nickname.(less)

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3.96  · 
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 ·  364 ratings  ·  68 reviews

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Chelsea Couillard-Smith
I didn't expect this book to draw me in as much as it did. Ashley-Hollinger walks a fine line between nostalgia and the emotional authenticity of a child in the moment, but ends up with a well-crafted mystery steeped in a particular time and place with an authentic child protagonist. Bones is a lot like Scout in TKAM: a precocious tomboy who struggles to live up to the moral examples set by the adults in her life. While she easily opens her heart to the outsiders and oddballs in her community, h ...more
Barbara Rogan
Feb 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
PRECIOUS BONES is set in 1948, in the swamplands of old Florida. The main character, Bones, is a 10-year-old girl, and the book is marketed as a young adult book, but should absolutely be read by adults as well. "Civilization" is encroaching on the traditional life of the swamp, and Bones' idyllic life with her mother and father is threatened when two Yankee land speculators set their sights on their land. Bones herself is a miraculous creation, as inquisitive as the raccoon in her animal entour ...more
It's 1949 and 10 year-old Bones lives in the swamps of Florida with her parents. Bones and her family live a simple and fairly quiet life. Until two real estate agents come on to her family's property uninvited and a few days later one of the agents are reported as missing.

What I can about this book? It's definitely suspenseful and a good mystery. It was slow at first, but it picked up and got better. The characters are all unique and likable. And it just feels like a nice little community. When
Mallee Stanley
Dec 09, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-books
This was a young adult murder mystery set in Florida. Although the plot was good and the characters believable, I had a hard time with the children in the story often taking guns with them when heading to the swamp and the mother carrying a gun in her handbag. May be this is "normal" in the U.S. but for those outside the country like me, it was a little disturbing. There was also an element of advise throughout the book which although wise, became a preachy after a while and I found myself skipp ...more
Jul 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
When the worst storm of the 1949 summer season blows through the swamp where ten-year-old Bones lives with her parents, she thinks the worst that could happen is their house will flood. Little does she know, real trouble is just around the corner. Some citified Yankee men come sniffing around trying to get Bones' daddy to sell his land. The confrontation does not go well and soon one of the men turns up dead and Nolay (Bones' daddy) is the chief suspect. Bones adores her father but she knows tha ...more
Rating: 3.5

One of my favorite uncles growing up was my Uncle Joe. He was big, larger than life even. He could sing like Hank Williams. He was a gifted storyteller who usually focused more on the quality of the story than the truth. He had that quintessential southern accent -- smooth and warm, it would roll through you like good whiskey. He could make a mean boiling pot -- with Uncle Joe, food went beyond nourishment and became an event. He was an amazing and skilled hunter and fisherman. And (a
Kristina Cardoza
Precious Bones by Mika Ashley-Hollinger is a very suspenseful Florida story! Starring the inquisitive 10-year-old Bones, 1949 is a very interesting year! It all starts in late July, when Bones and her family are disturbed by two land-hungry Yankees that want to buy Bones' father, Nolay's, land, but Nolay, being the mischievous person he is, chases them off of his land with a gun! (Since he is of Native American descent and his family had lived there in an earlier time, the land was very
Mar 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People 11+
I was in 6th grade and there was this box full of scholastic books. This book was full of books because they were just ordered and didn't fit into the bookshelf in the classroom. I made a goal to read all the books in that box. I read the back of Precious Bones and decided I didn't want to read it because it gave me the chills. One day I saw my friend reading it she told me to read it, I trusted her advice when it came to books because she had really great taste in books. So I picked it up and s ...more
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
“Precious Bones”, by Mika Ashley-Hollinger was a fantastic book. I enjoyed the middle towards the end. The book had a very good form of tension on chapter named, “Confessions”. It is so ironic that Bones is the one to create solid evidence to put a murder in jail. After Nolay went to jail and Lori started to get upset, that Bones started critically thinking about all the happened. She talked to Little Man and Mr. Speed, but I never would have guessed that what Mr. Speed talks about, affects the ...more
Feb 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
In the book flap, the author mentioned that she wrote this in tribute to a way of life that has all but disappeared; I totally agree, the childhood life described in the story is as far removed from my urban experience as possible. There were several things in the story that caused my eyebrows to raise - the ten-year-old Bones bringing her gun when she had to visit a neighbour whom she thought was some kind of witch (a gun that her father gave her when she was six); her mother reminding her to a ...more
Literary Classics Book Awards & Reviews
Occasionally we come across a book which transports us to another time or place as it feeds the mind and nurtures the soul; Precious Bones is one of those joyously rare literary finds.

Precious Bones is the entrancing story of Bones, a ten year old girl growing up in the swamplands of Florida in the 1940s. In this, her debut novel, Author Mika Ashley-Hollinger has conjured up a vividly colorful cast of characters that nearly saunter off the pages of her book to take up residence in the hearts of
Molly (Conan the Librarian) Crumbley
Bones, a ten-year-old free spirit living in the swamps of Florida in 1949, is in a big pickle. She and her neighbors are all in an uproar when a pair of land-swindling Yankees come to call and one of them has the nerve to turn up dead on her father Nolay’s property. Without a decent alibi to cover Nolay’s tracks, the law has their sights set on him as their prime suspect. Deep down, Bones just knows that her daddy couldn’t and wouldn’t have committed such a crime, but she’ll have a heck of a tim ...more
A Book Vacation
Apr 20, 2012 rated it liked it
If you’re looking for a great book for your kids to read, then this is it! Set in the Florida swamps in the late 1940s, when racism is rampant and people have very little, Bones, the young protagonist, must work against the odds in order to clear her father’s name of murder. This is a very touching tale concerning coming of age, which any MG/YA will enjoy; it’s full of mystery and intrigue, ripe with many themes, such as treating people right, regardless of race, age, disability, or wealth. Whil ...more
Elizabeth O.
May 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-1-12
Content Warning:
Disturbing implied violence
Mild cussing
Racial slurs

Bones is a ten year old living with her parents in the swamp lands of Florida. She and her best friend, Little Man, seek adventure and crawfish in the summer of 1949. However, one day two men from the North come to their home, hoping to buy the land from Bones' father, Nolay. Nolay is a Miccosukee Indian and becomes angry when the Yankee's become more threatening towards him. Once the Northerners are chased off the land,
Feb 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s, hns
My review for the Historical Novel Society:

When her father kicks a pushy Yankee realtor off their Florida swampland property and the guy later turns up dead, it turns out to be the opening of a life-changing season for 10-year-old Bones. This children’s book, set in 1949, is a stroll through a time when the color line was drawn with a knife, when kids scrubbed the house screens with DDT, when Florida had never heard of Disney, and when children prefaced every statement to adults with a “yes sir”
Jan 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Bones and her family live in the Florida swamps in 1948. She and her best friend Little Man are creatures of the swamp; they know the land and the animals and people for miles around. She likes to catch mullet with Little Man and sit on the porch of the Last Chance store with Mr. Speed. The small community is shook up when two murders take place in a matter of days. Nolay, Bones's daddy, is the prime suspect for the murders and Bones starts doubting her daddy. But the sheriff is investigating an ...more
Bill Tillman
A fantastic tale of life in the Florida swamp during the late 40's and early 50's. Bones is an adventuresome ten-year old living in the Florida swamps, whose playground is the Florida swamps, brimming with mountain witches, black bears, alligators and bobcats. Bones' father, Nolay, a Miccosukee Indian, is smart and mischievous. Her Mama Lori, is as practical as corn bread, can see straight into Bones' soul. It's summer, and Bones is busy hunting and fishing with her best friend, Little Man. But ...more
Nov 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is another book that I read based on a student's recommendation--and by the looks of it, it's been passed around a fair amount. I heartily second the good review! Set in a tiny Florida community in the late 1940s, the story features charming, larger-than-life characters (including "bad guys" who really are trying to sell the proverbial swamp land in Florida to unsuspecting buyers). The fast-paced plot is centered around a double-murder in which the main character's father, who is part Nativ ...more
Books Kids Like
Sep 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Bones was named Precious Bones by her great-grandmother. So, even though she gets teased about her name, she bears it proudly. Bones lives with her father and mother in the swamps of eastern Florida. During the summer 1948, they are thrown into turmoil as her father becomes a suspect in two murders. This book is a coming-of-age story in many respects. Bones learns that parents sometimes lie to their children trying to keep them safe and happy. She, also, learns the truth behind her worst childho ...more
Lila Sayre
Oct 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed-by-me
Precious Bones is a captivating, dramatic murder mystery full of scary surprises, struggles and successes, along with very strong aspects of family, and community.The summer of 1949 is coming to an end for 10 year old Bones when her and her best friend Little Man find something very strange out in the swamps, and a very disturbing sight is seen out by the railroad tracks, not one, but two murders must be solved. And if that isn’t bad enough, her Father, Nolay is the prime suspect! With her whole ...more
Dec 24, 2016 marked it as xx-dnf-skim-reference
Ok, I didn't read quite enough to rate this, but honestly, it's probably a 2-star book. The foreshadowing at the end of each chapter is horrid. The dialogue is stiff and sounds unnatural (the author drew on her childhood for the setting, but in the years since she must have lost some of her 'ear'). Even though I skipped to the end, I still don't know why the girl is named Bones. And the plot doesn't seem to make sense, unless we're talking in an iconographic, almost Jungian way.

However, all the
Nov 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Deborah, Valerie, Cheryl
This lengthy chapter book brims with atmosphere and personality. Ten-year-old Bones has the run of her surroundings, the wilds of the Florida swamplands. She has her own rifle and a best friend, Little Man, who looks out for her on the school grounds. Her father, Nolay, is from the Seminole tribe and is full of tales--and Bones believes them, until the day story must come up against fact and fact wins. And as her belief in her father is shaken, two murders occur in the space of two weeks, and No ...more
Kit Grindstaff
Jul 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Though I've never been to the Florida swamps - let alone in 1949 - Mika Ashley-Hollinger totally transported me there, into the life of 10 year old Bones and her small family and community of fellow edge-of-swamp dwellers. I felt as though I was 10 again, following Bones past muddy ponds and palmetto roots and listening to her narrate the events that gradually endanger the slow, earthy existence she loves, threatening to break it apart.

This book is full of delightful characters - from Bones's a
Sandra Stiles
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Bones and her best friend Little Man love spending their summer hunting, fishing and exploring the swamp. Her father Nolay is a Native American with somewhat of a temper. When two yankees come offering to buy his land he scares them off with a gun. When one of them turns up dead in the swamp Nolay becomes the prime suspect. Bones knows her daddy better than anyone. She knows he is innocent. Since the sheriff is taking so long to prove it she figures it is up to her to find out what is really goi ...more
Carol Cowan
Jun 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Although this book isn't necessarily for adults (really not for adults), I did not want to put it down! This story is set in post WWII east/central Florida. Knowing the area, it was a fun book because some of the locations were familiar. The author brought the setting to life with details (no refrigeration/electricity for those living in rural areas, segregation, land grabs/swindles, hunting and fishing and RC colas and moon pies!). The story itself is written from the point of view of a ten yea ...more
Karin Jenkins
Sep 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a lovely story, but not for the faint of heart. It's a murder mystery, basically, so there will be death, bodies, and the cruel acts of bad people. The story is set in Florida in 1949? I love this book because the settings are well described. I don't think my homeschooler will want to do this, but I would love to make a diorama of about every noun listed. I've never been to Florida or the swamp, or the Everglades, but this book makes me want to learn about them. The main character has a ...more
Mar 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful story of a young girl named Precious Bones. Growing up in the swamplands of Florida in the 1950s without electricity can be difficult, but Precious is surrounded with a loving family and eccentric but caring friends and neighbors. Many wonderful characters live in this Florida tale, and there is even a mystery to keep the story moving along. I like to read an occasional juvenile fiction and highly recommend this one to children and adults alike. Hope to see Precious again som ...more
Addison Children's Services
Feb 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: chapter-books
I thought this was a great first novel. Bones, 10, lives near the Florida swamps in the late 1940s. Her father is part American Indian and earns a living as a fisherman, but also, it seems, by some shadier dealing. Bones' family and most of her friends are dirt poor by today's standards, but they don't know it and are all pretty happy. Then two men turn up dead and Bones' father is the prime suspect. A great coming of age novel set in the not too distant past, touching on friendship, racism, and ...more
Allison Familtom
Sep 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Precious Bones is about a family that has a lot of animals.every day they go to town after school to see a man who had been in the army they would buy him a pop and he would tell stories.then when they went home they would eat dinner and go to sleep .one day they went in the woods and they found the surprise of their lives. They went home and made their dad come outside and they reported it.Then another murder happens that's when things become really weird. One more death occurs in town.Still no ...more
Marilyn Olson
Nov 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book gives the reader a real look into the lives of people who live in the swamps of southern Florida at the time after WWII and just before the big build-up of Florida. Their language, the food they eat, the work they do and how the swamps influence their lives are some of the things revealed in this book. First and foremost, however, Precious Bones is a mystery that unravels slowly within the context of its setting.
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