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The Bone Sparrow

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4.09  ·  Rating details ·  2,712 ratings  ·  560 reviews
Sometimes, at night, the dirt outside turns into a beautiful ocean. As red as the sun and as deep as the sky. I lie in my bed, Queeny's feet pushing up against my cheek, and listen to the waves lapping at the tent.

Subhi is a refugee. Born in an Australian permanent detention centre after his mother fled the violence of a distant homeland, life behind the fences is all he h
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Paperback, 234 pages
Published June 28th 2016 by Lothian Children's Books
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Emma This is very much a higher middle grade/lower YA Contemporary as the main characters are between 10 and 12, and I picked it up from one of the younger…moreThis is very much a higher middle grade/lower YA Contemporary as the main characters are between 10 and 12, and I picked it up from one of the younger teenage tables in my local Waterstones. However, whilst the events in the book are very much fictional, Zara Fraillon was inspired by actual photographs and testaments of refugees in Australian refugee camps so there is a lot of hard hitting realism when it comes to the treatment of Subhi and all the other refugees in this camp/detainment centre. (less)
Graham yes, as long as you are prepared to hold her during the times when she cries, and have the resources to help her fulfil her firey passion for changing…moreyes, as long as you are prepared to hold her during the times when she cries, and have the resources to help her fulfil her firey passion for changing the world(less)

Community Reviews

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4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,712 ratings  ·  560 reviews


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Lola
THE BONE SPARROW so needed to be written.

And I’m ashamed of that. I’m ashamed of our species; that we can show such cruelty toward refugees and asylum seekers.

For once, I wish I could have said that there are million books like this one, and we’re so aware of the way refugees and asylum seekers are treated that we put a stop to such dark detention centers years ago.

But that is not the case. So thank you Miss Fraillon for taking the time to write this revelatory, touching and lyrical novel.

This
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Emer (A Little Haze)
"Coming here is a bit like waking up from a nightmare and then finding out that you aren't awake at all."


The Bone Sparrow is a middle grade story about a young boy named Subhi who was born and lives in an immigration detention centre somewhere in Australia. Although fictional, details about the daily life and treatment of the immigrants are based on reality. Because of all of this I wanted to read this and really wanted to like it too. But I couldn't find myself getting invested in the writing
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Katie Ziegler (Life Between Words)
STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND GO READ THIS BOOK RIGHT NOW. I just finished it about half an hour ago and I’m reeling. Beautiful, poignant, enlightening, heartbreaking, and hopeful - this, THIS is why middle grade books should absolutely not be overlooked as worthy literature. This should sit right alongside other books shedding light on the plight of refugees and asylum seekers. This is the kind of book that helps all our hearts grow bigger - big enough to make sure that no one in this scary world ...more
Jenny
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is horrifying disturbing and alarming. Yet it is also a story of hope and love.
I really liked that both Jimmie and Subhi are trying to find out who they are by remembering people and stories from their families and the past.
I could not put tbis down... and read it whenever I had the chance. As an adult reading this, I think there is a responsibility we have to ensure that all people are treated in an humane and compassionate way, no matter how they come to our country... and no matte
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Aditi
“But if the world measures a refugee according to the worst story, we will always excuse human suffering, saying it is not yet as bad as someone else's.”

----Victoria Armour-Hileman


Zana Fraillon, an Australian author, has penned a heart breaking and thoroughly compelling tale about refugees in her latest book, The Bone Sparrow that is centered around a young refugee boy living his days with his mother and his elder sister in an Australian detention camp where he spends his days helping his orp
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Tara
Jun 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"WE ARE INNOCENT.
PLEASE HELP US TO BE FREE.
WE CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT HOPE."


This book was devastating and enlightening and delightful all at once. The story follows two very different young children, as they discover more of the world through their friendship with each other. From the moment I met Subhi, a young refugee born in an Australian detention centre, I knew that his story would be heartbreaking. And it definitely was.

If you want to learn more about the refugee situation and how asylum seek
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Morris
There are not enough stars to give “The Bone Sparrow.” Even a thousand would be insufficient.

Subhi, the main character, is a child born inside an Australian detention camp to a Burmese refugee. The way the story progresses is a work of art, with the reader taking the journey with Subhi as he grows to realize the only world he has ever known is not at all normal or fair. It’s a painful path to take with him. There are occasional chapters written in third person about the life of Jimmie, a girl fr
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K.
Trigger warnings: this book follows the story of refugees in a detention centre, so...PTSD, mistreatment by guards, murder, hunger strikes, self harm, and a multitude of other things.

This book was veeeeeeeeeeery slow to start for me. The first...50-75 pages was a serious struggle and it reminded me a lot of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, seeing as it was narrated from the perspective of a ten year old who had very little understanding of the broader situation going on around him.

But then, wit
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Fred
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: carnegie-2017
I was pleasantly surprised by this - I really really enjoyed it! This received four stars out of five from me and I thought it was an absolutely brilliant read.
It's set in an Australian refugee camp; it follows a boy named Subhi who lives there with his sister Queeny and his mother and all we know about their past so far is that Subhi has been born there so he's lived in the camp all his life and the two girls fled from their homeland far away. It focuses on imagination; it focuses on refugee li
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Hazel (Stay Bookish)
YOU KNOW YOU'RE READING A BRILLIANTLY HEARTBREAKING BOOK WHEN YOU'RE SOBBING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. This is such a powerful book that needs to be read by EVERYONE for awareness of what's going on in refugee camps.
T.J. Burns
Wow! That was a difficult read. But I'm so glad I pushed through.

The Bone Sparrow is amazing -- tragic, heart-breaking, tear-jerking... yet hopeful, showing the power of friendship, family, love, story-telling, and remembering.

I definitely needed some time to process this book.

The Bone Sparrow is an amazing story -- I just couldn't take too much at once. I am definitely the target audience here. I know little about Burma or its ethnic groups, but I care deeply about the plight of refugees worl
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Karen • The Book Return
Read this review and more on my blog.
The Book Return BlogI received this book for free from Publisher (via Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Subhi is born in a refugee in an interment camp. He has never seen the outside world. He has no books, no school, and not enough food, water, or clothes.

Every once in a while I stumble on a book that totally takes me by surprise. One that I haven't heard anything about. A b
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Lisa Simmons
I wanted to like this book more than I did. Yes, I now have a much more vivid image of how wrong conditions in refugee camps can be (this one in Australia) and an awareness of more of the ethnic Burmese minorities. The last couple chapters were a dramatic ending that were exciting, sad and I didn't fully see coming.
But overall the pacing was slow and I mostly didn't connect with the characters (I did like Eli). Full disclosure -- I typically am turned off by characters who talk to an inanimate o
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L.P. Logan
Whoa, talk about giving someone a massive dose of perspective. This book ladles out that and then some.

Imagine being born in a refugee camp . . . and then living there for the entire 12 years of your existence. You never know anything outside of the chainlink fences, you never know anything of nature and vitality, and as the Subhi laments, the only means through which you can create your own memories of something else is by listening to the stories of others. Such a sad, sad existence and one t
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Andrea
I'm glad this book has been selling so well, because it's an important story, but I felt it was poorly executed. Readers in the audience demographic may be more forgiving than me.
Stephanie
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
I may or may not have cried all the way through the ending. Please read this. It's such a wonderful story filled with the realities of the world
Kelly (Diva Booknerd)
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Eight year old Subhi survives behind within the wire compound of the detention centre, overcrowded bodies neglected under the parched Australian sun. Subhi is one child of thousands of men, women and children escaping their homeland and applying for asylum in Australia. Born within the compound, his family surviving the harrowing journey from Burma where his father is under political incarceration. Persecuted and malnourished, families are placed within the compound and abandoned by the Australi ...more
Aimie
Jul 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Bone Sparrow revolves around the life of Subhi, a refugee born in an Australian permanent detention centre. Having never stepped foot outside of the fence, Subhi has no idea what life could be like. No matter if he has never known a life behind he fences, his world is bigger than the fences. When he meets Jimmie, a young girl from the Outside who needs someone to read her late mother's stories, he offers to help her.

The Bone Sparrow is a captivating book. It brings light to a situation t
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Layla
Jul 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Bone Sparrow was a captivating book about life in an Australia Immigration Detention Centre. A boy named Subhi is a refugee born in the Centre and all that his life consisted of was being behind fences. He has an imagination larger than himself. Life in the Centre is dull and boring and the one thing that keeps everyone from giving up is the memories and stories from the past. Subhi doesn’t have any other memories than the Centre so he needs other peoples, to realise what life was and what i ...more
Suzanne Rooyen
Dec 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's really hard to rate a book like this when the subject matter is so devastating and infuriating. I had only just learned about the Rohingya people and their plight when I picked up this book. It is eye-opening, to say the least.

This book is beautifully written with MG characters I absolutely adored. The voice is perfect and hinted at some extremely dark content without becoming too graphic or explicit - kudos to the author for packing a punch in such a delicate way.

There are however a few vi
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Bridget
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautiful story, written very well and very moving. A timely story of refugees and the horrific treatment they receive in custody in the lands they go to hoping for an improvement in their lives. This is the story of a young boy of Burmese descent who was born in a detention centre, this is his misery filled life and a grim picture of life in a refugee camp. It is also the story of a young girl who lives near the centre, she is a character, a rebel and full of wildness and good humour ...more
Sophie Crane
Apr 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, giveaway
This is an incredibly sad story about a group of Rohingya kept in a detention camp. The story is beautifully created and gave me an insight into the dreadful treatment of people kept captive when seeking asylum. The main character captures your heart, painting the stories from his culture and imagination around you. I would definitely recommend reading this beautiful book.
Jiyul Lee
Subhi is a refugee. He was born from the only world that he know-the Australian detention center. His mother and sister tried to get away from all the disturbance and fighting(which ARE synonyms,) that was happening in Burma, a distant homeland. Subhi has never gone out before. But each and every night, he can hear the ocean nearby and everything in it, and the Sea brings him all kinds of gifts-his treasures. One day, Subhi sees a rather shabby-looking girl-'scruffy', Subhi describes her.
Her nam
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Gabriela
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The protagonist Subhi is part of the people of Burma. However, he was born into a refugee camp and has yet to see his beloved homeland. Subhi and his friends/family are contained in a small camp surrounded by razor wire, and brutal laws that are enforced by the Jackets. Subhi has a vast imagination and continuously pictures a world outside of the depressing camp. Soon, he comes along a girl named Jimmie who lives "outside". Jimmie has lost her mother, but begins to share her stories with Subhi. ...more
16PosnerS
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very gripping and thrilling novel - I was almost always hooked.

Admittedly, it was somewhat slow moving at the beginning, but once you embraced the themes and allegories which this novel so beautifully creates, it becomes not remarkably dissimilar to a thriller. To anyone who wants to learn about the world and the horrendous conditions in which some of our species are kept in, this is a MUST READ. It is a real eye opener to the conditions and I would challenge anyone who contradicts me to being i
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16quinnh
Many people have compared this book to ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ and while I agree the subject of both books is touchy and eye-opening, I didn’t find this one to be as emotive as the boy in the striped pyjamas.

Despite this, I did feel attached to Subhi and the writing made me feel sympathy towards him. This book does help you to realise how much of a privileged you have. I just felt it took quite long to get into and was a bit boring at first.
Anna
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
BITTE LEST ALLE DIESES BUCH, BITTE!
Jayne Catherine pinkett
Not sure how I can put into words at the moment. This book grips your heart.
Jacob Head
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very moving and relevant tale. Although it is fictional, it still hits hard.
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘DAR-1, that’s me. I was the first baby ever born here.’

Meet Subhi. He’s about nine years old, and was born in an Australian detention centre. The boundaries of his physical world are defined by the razor wire, but his imagination knows no bounds. Subhi’s mother, Maá and his sister Noor, nicknamed Queeny are with him. They are Rohingya refugees from Burma.

Subhi describes his life: controlled by guards who oversee everything, where food, water and toilet paper are rationed. He’s known no other li
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Zana Fraillon was born in Melbourne, but spent her early childhood in San Francisco.

Zana has written two picture books for young children, a series for middle readers, and a novel for older readers based on research and accounts of survivors of the Forgotten Generation. She spent a year in China teaching English and now lives in Melbourne with her three sons, husband and two dogs.

When Zana isn't
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“To those who refuse to be blinded by the glare, or deafened by the hush, who are brave enough to question, and curious enough to explore. To those who will not forget. You will make a difference. And to the rest of us, so that we may learn how.” 9 likes
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