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The Bone Sparrow

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  2,555 ratings  ·  535 reviews
Born in a refugee camp, all Subhi knows of the world is that he's at least 19 fence diamonds high, the nice Jackets never stay long, and at night he dreams that the sea finds its way to his tent, bringing with it unusual treasures. And one day it brings him Jimmie.

Carrying a notebook that she's unable to read and wearing a sparrow made out of bone around her neck - both ta
Paperback, 293 pages
Published January 12th 2017 by Hachette Children's Group (first published November 1st 2016)
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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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4.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,555 ratings  ·  535 reviews

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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.

"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
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
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
“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
Jun 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
یک کتاب ِ خوب برای این که یادمون بمونه دنیا رو به چه گندی کشیدیم!

راوی داستان پسر کوچولوییه که توی اردوگاه پناهندگان روهینگیایی به دنیا اومده و از دنیای بیرون چیزی نمی دونه. . . و این منطقیه، چون دنیای بیرون هم از حضور اون چیزی نمی دونه!
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.
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
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Subhi is geboren in het vluchtelingenkamp en kent geen andere wereld dan de wereld binnen de hekken. Op een avond ontmoet hij Jimmie, die aan de andere kant van het hek woont. Samen ervaren ze een vorm van vrijheid door de verhalen in het dagboek van Jimmies overleden moeder.
Binnen het kamp is Subhi bevriend met Eli, in mijn ogen voelde hij als zijn grote broer die hem beschermde en met wie hij lol had. Wanneer hij Jimmie ontmoet zegt hij: ‘Ik bedenk hoe anders ik me voel als Jimmie er is. Also
Kelly (Diva Booknerd)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! Dieses Buch war wirklich einzigartig! Der Schreibstil war unglaublich poetisch und flüssig. Die Geschichte war sehr berührend und traurig aber gleichzeitig wunderschön geschrieben! Ich bin wirklich begeistert von diesem Buch und kann nicht in Worte fassen was ich beim Lesen empfunden habe!
Hot or not met de Hebban YA Club van 10 volgt komende week op Dit boek verschijnt op 6 juli.
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ondanks dat het onderwerp van dit boek interessant was, vond ik de schrijfstijl totaal niet fijn, waardoor dit boek mij niet helemaal kon raken. Jammer!
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.
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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
“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.” 8 likes
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