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Bone & Bread

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  2,431 ratings  ·  301 reviews
Beena and Sadhana are sisters who share a bond that could only have been shaped by the most unusual of childhoods -- and by shared tragedy. Orphaned as teenagers, they have grown up under the exasperated watch of their Sikh uncle, who runs a bagel shop in Montreal's Hasidic community of Mile End. Together, they try to make sense of the rich, confusing brew of values, ritua ...more
Paperback, 445 pages
Published March 30th 2013 by House of Anansi Press (first published February 26th 2013)
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Average rating 3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,431 ratings  ·  301 reviews

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Matthew Quann
Jan 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Let me open with some praise: I enjoyed Bone & Bread much more than I would have anticipated based on the cover. But, here’s the thing: the cover.


You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. It’s a fine adage for schoolteachers and bookworms to toss around, but it is also something I find nearly impossible. The book cover should act as a snapshot of what is contained within. If a novel is a house, then the cover is you furtively looking through a window into that
Aug 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm not often intimidated yet, noticing that I'm the first male to be leaving a comment, I'm feeling a tiny bit of of trepidation.

It's not terribly surprising that [only?] women are commenting and presumably reading Bone and Bread since this is essentially a book about two sisters and their relationships; mainly with each other but with others as well. So, relationships. Not really guy material at all. And, incidentally, astonishingly well written.

Why astonishing? Well, this is a debut novel w
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
I really enjoyed the beginning of this story. The childhood of Beena and Sadhana was wonderfully told. Their mother was such a caring, carefree soul. Bad things happen, sometimes through Fate, sometimes through bad choices but the anger that lived in Beena seemed overwhelming. It kept her distant from family & friends, relationships and trust. I found her actions near the end of the book somewhat insulting to Sadhana. Perhaps that's just me, though.
The storyline with Libby was inexcusable. Her
May 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canadian
I felt a sort of melancholy while reading this book, thinking about how life can be filled with so much loss.
The storytelling was exquisite, in my opinion. The way the words flow was soothing; the sentences fit just right.
It's interesting to think about how we see ourselves, how others see us, and how we think others see us and how these perceptions play in our relationships. This is what I was thinking about with Beena and her son Quinn or Beena and her sister Sadhana, or any of the other rel
Mar 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
this is a big, heartfelt novel. nawaz has created some very interesting, complicated characters and so much of the dynamics of relationships felt true and real. the psychology at play in this book will have me thinking for ages to come. while the novel very much navigates the terrain of sisterhood, it's also reads a bit like a mystery, as the circumstances of sadhana's death, though known, are more fully explored and, eventually, revealed. i wasn't quite fully captured by the inclusion of the po ...more
Mar 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016, can-con
We sat up that whole long night with our mother, and the world grew black as we wept, which was right, and the stars winked on one by one, like cosmic comedians with unbearable mirth, and when the sun had not yet risen, Mama pulled out the mats and bent herself forward and back, stretching in silence from Bhujangasana to Parvatasana, her whole body seeming to collapse and expand in turn as she moved through her yoga postures like a dance with space.

Bone and Bread is a book with alternating t
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own, canadian
For a 450-page book, I can't believe how sad I was to be leaving these characters once I reached the end. You'd think I would have had my fill of them by then, but I could read about sisters Beena and Sadhana for many, many, many pages more.

Saleema Nawaz is a beautiful writer who crafted an incredibly rich and vivid story in Bone and Bread. From the characters to the setting to the story itself, I couldn't have loved this novel more. Definitely my favourite read of 2013 so far. Highly recommende
Jan 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: personal-library
The novel begins with the death of Sadhana Singh. Beena, her older sister, is the narrator. As she clears his sister’s apartment and tries to uncover the circumstances behind Sadhana’s sudden death, she narrates the story of her family’s past and her present. The sisters, the daughters of an American yoga instructor and a Sikh baker, grow up above the family’s bagel shop in the Hasidic community in Montreal. Orphaned, they are left in the care of a traditional Sikh uncle. As teenagers, Beena bec ...more
Apr 05, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This story held a lot of promise but did not deliver. The characters were each shallow and selfish. For two sisters that only had each other, I felt that their trials were not relatible. Disappointingly slow, with an anti-climatic ending. It started out wonderfully with beautifully written descriptions of Montreal, but the characters fell flat for me.
Jul 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Bone and Bread is another book I cannot praise enough. Saleema Nawaz writes beautifully, she is especially great at creating unique similes, setting the tone for her novel, and in my opinion her similes make her writing stand out from other authors. In Bone & Bread Nawaz created characters I loved, made me frustrated, and at times made me want to smack them. Crafting relatable characters takes talent and is what distinguishes good fiction from bad. In Bone & Bread we follow the lives of two sist ...more
Brown Ghost
Feb 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this but I confess I'm a brown girl, born and bred in Montreal. It was easy, too easy to enjoy the references to my hometown and the trips down memory lane that Saleema Nawaz evoked. I'm also one of three sisters and so the complicated relationship between Beena and Sadhana resonated, albeit painfully most of the time. The prose is lovely and not fatiguing; for once I didn't have skip over long boring descriptions. I'm not sure I loved the ending; I found the whole protest and r ...more
Jun 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: canadian
I enjoyed this book, though I found it a bit overlong. Though the majority of the novel focuses on the relationship between two sisters as they navigate one sister's eating disorder, but I was also interested in the take-up of issues of immigration and citizenship in Quebec. Laura has already made a video about this book on Hello Hemlock and mine will be up soon.
Jun 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
An excellent, beautiful novel about the lives of two sisters, both of whom are struggling with their own demons. I enjoyed the gorgeous writing, nuanced characters, Sikh background of the characters and the Montreal and Ottawa setting.

I'll be writing a column about this book. Nice work Saleema!
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book. Heart-wrenching, for sure. But such beautiful character portraits - I was transported into their lives. Loved it. Loved it. Loved it.
Jun 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I do not know where to start with all the things that I loved about this book! I loved the story about two sisters growing up in Montreal with an Irish mother and a Sikh father who runs a bagel shop in Mordecai Richler territory - I loved this as a Montrealer ("born and bred!")and as a Canadian. The cultural mix seemed quintessentially Canadian to me. Throughout the novel, I could almost taste those delicious Montreal bagels!

I loved the portrayal of the relationship between the two sisters. Nawa
Feb 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Ah, sometimes it feels so good to leave one’s comfort zone and be reminded of the joys inherent in superb storytelling, no matter the content or genre. Nawaz effortlessly cuts back and forth through time, following Beena as adult and child, letting the reader travel alongside her as she slowly pieces together the elements of her life. Her characters breathe real, their pains ache beyond the page. It’s a novel filled with moments of grief, toil, and random cruelty, yet it never feels oppressive, ...more
May 26, 2017 rated it liked it
As the title of Saleema Nawaz's novel suggests, the reader will encounter much that is related to food and eating. Indeed, the entire book rests on its ability to find different ways, means and motives to incorporate the preparation of food, types of food, similes and metaphors that centre on food and even characters that relate to food into the narrative structure.

The novel centres on two sisters of different ages but who the same birth date. It is evident that Nawaz wants the reader to compare
Apr 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is definitely not for everyone, but it was a good choice for me!

I really enjoyed the exploration of sisterhood after tragic events, the mental illness, the completely flawed characters that you still care about, and the setting in Montreal and Ottawa since I've lived in both cities.

The novel is a little long, and obviously not everyone is willing to dedicate 400 pages of reading about family relationships/sisterhood. However I think this book is fantastic and deserves being selected
Jul 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
I highly recommend the book. In fact, I'll read it again. Saleema if you are reading this, I want to tell you everything I appreciated about your book: I thought the pacing and suspense was amazing. I cared about the characters--they felt like real people. I loved the Bagel shop setting and the various apartments because I could really picture them. It felt like Montreal, like the story couldn't have taken place in just any city. You tackled some pretty huge issues: politics, immigration, famil ...more
Jul 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Be prepared to be sad when you read this book. There are lots of fun and funny parts in Bone & Bread, but the level of tragedy that the two main characters have sustained is overwhelming. I think that Nawaz very deftly portrays the effects of guilt, however misplaced, on a life. ...more
Mar 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
A captivating read - 45 pages from the end and I still couldn't predict how the book would wrap up. Nawaz is a great storyteller. This book should have won CBC's Canada Reads!
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
After the sudden death of her sister, a recovering anorexic, a woman recalls their turbulent and traumatic upbringing in an attempt to unravel her sister's secrets and exonerate her own misplaced guilt.

Though the supposed "twist" was agonizingly predictable, and Nawaz attempts to tackle too many issues, not all successfully, Bone and Bread is nonetheless a beautiful, tender read about identity and ultimately accepting the things you cannot control.
Jan 30, 2016 rated it liked it
I've been vacillating on whether or not to write a review of this book. Having read and 'liked' some of the reviews that are already on GR, I felt it wasn't really necessary, things I'd want to say have already been said. But on the other hand, I wanted mostly to point out that I did like this book, a debut novel by an author I think has promise, one whose work I will follow with interest.

One thing I loved about this book, and in all fairness it's more of an aside rather than particular to Nawa
Apr 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads-wins
I received this book free in a giveaway hosted by Goodreads First Reads.
The main reason that I entered this giveaway for this book was the summary. It sounded so interesting having orphaned sisters one being anorexia and one having a teen pregnancy. That sold me and then I was excited about having actually won. But unfortunately, the story feel a little short for me. It would jump between present day and past events every other chapter. I definitely enjoyed the past events better. The past gave
Feb 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
I actually finished this in the middle of this past week, but couldn't quite get my thoughts together, so left it on my currently reading shelf as a reminder. I enjoyed every moment I spent reading this book and looked forward to picking it up again each time I set it down. This is one reason I love Canada Reads each year--I get introduced to at least one entirely new to me book/author that provides me with a great reading experience. I enjoyed this one so much, I had trouble getting into a seco ...more
May 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, canlit
This was one of the 2015 selections of the Hello Hemlock. I have to say, I really, really like this one. The story follows the lives of two sisters, Beena and Sadhana. The book opens with Beena dealing with the recent death of her sister, due to a sudden heart attack, and it's through her grief and memories that the author takes the story back to their childhood. Daughters of a Sikh baker and a white yoga instructor, the two girls become orphan at very early age and then end up in the care of th ...more
Debbie Bateman
Oct 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I know a book is really good if I reach the final pages and feel sad at the sudden realization that I will lose the company of the characters in the story. Sadhana and Beena feel like people I have known. I watched them grow up, suffer the loss of both parents, and struggle to find a meaningful life as adults. I heard their inner thoughts, felt their love for each other, and their frustration… that relentless tension between a desire for closeness and a need for separation that we all experience ...more
Jan 21, 2016 rated it liked it
I didn't like either of the sisters and didn't care what happened to them, so that took away from my "really liking" the book. I did; however, "like" the way Nawaz writes especially how she conveyed the raw emotion that the sisters had for each other. Not only that, I was angry when Nawaz killed off my favourite character and in such a horrible way. I thought this would have been the best reason for Sadhana to refuse to eat, but her anorexia was established before (view spoiler) ...more
3.5 stars

Beena and Sadhana have an East Indian father and a white mother. They were raised in Montreal, Quebec. Sadhana is two years younger than Beena. Their father died when they were young and their mother when they were teenagers; they are then in the custody of their uncle, who runs the bagel shop (originally owned by their father) downstairs. As they grow up, they each run into teen girl problems (serious ones, not small ones), which I won’t mention, as they aren’t revealed until later in
Megan Baxter
Apr 14, 2017 rated it liked it
I have to admit, I struggled with this book. When I first picked it up, the writing style intruded itself too much on my notice, particularly when Nawaz stacked similes, giving us several options for what something was like at a time. Then I put it down for a while, and as often happens, when I came back, the writing had faded into the background (I only find it tends to continue to intrude when it is really REALLY bad.)

Note: The rest of this review has been withheld due to the changes in Goodre
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Play Book Tag: Bone and Bread / Saleema Nawaz. 3.5 stars 1 14 Jan 20, 2017 08:41PM  

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Saleema Nawaz is the author of the short story collection Mother Superior and the novel Bone and Bread, which won the 2013 Quebec Writers’ Federation Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction. Her fiction has appeared in many Canadian literary journals, and her short story “My Three Girls,” won the 2008 Writers’ Trust of Canada/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize.

Born and raised in Ottawa, Ontar

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