Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Bone Talk” as Want to Read:
Bone Talk
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Bone Talk

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  336 ratings  ·  85 reviews
"Rich in the customs of the Bontok culture, with its paddy fields, sacrifices to ancestral spirits, and hunting and fighting with spears and axes, this fully imagines a way of life for which the records are sketchy. It also shows us a moment of change, as two worlds meet, and that it takes more than a ceremony to make a ma."Nicolette Jones, The Sunday Times

More than a
Paperback, Philippine Edition, 240 pages
Published August 2nd 2018 by Anvil Publishing, Inc.
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Bone Talk, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Bone Talk

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  336 ratings  ·  85 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Bone Talk
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
I purchased this at YALC, on the insistence by the publisher that I absolutely must read it. She was right, a wonderful and quick introduction to the history of a part of the world I am completely ignorant to.

Candy Gourlay, uses plenty of imagery to drop you into the middle of the Bontok community, and it was easy to picture them all from Samkad jr, to brave and fierce little Luki. Equally easy to picture are the Americans that walk into their midst, and I was very ready to leap into the pages
Ellie Labbett
Young Samkad is desperate to become a man. His father is a valued and respected warrior within the Bontoc community, and, to Samkad, the epitome of what it means to be a man. If only Samkad could prove to the elders that he too possesses such physical and inner strength. However, when a spiral of events prevents the ceremony that would establish Samkad’s manhood from taking place, the protagonist can only feel rage and bitterness at the injustice. But, with passing time and impending danger, ...more
Sophie Anderson
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was swept away by this gripping tale, set in the Philippines at the end of the nineteenth century.
Bone Talk is skilfully written, with evocative descriptions that provide a fascinating glimpse into the culture of the mountain tribes at the time.
At the heart of the story is Samkad, a young boy desperate to be a man. His struggles are so real, and his emotional journey so relatable, I felt deeply connected to him through the tale despite all the distance and years between us.
This brilliant
I have lots of thoughts about this book. It is a story that carries within it a goal which is, according to the back jacket sleeve, to bring into the world a story that the author was missing whilst growing up, a story that resembled 'her steamy, tropical home in Manila'. And I am so glad she did. Through copious, exhaustive research from a range of secondary and primary sources, Gourlay has accomplished an impressive feat bringing to life the Bontoc people and work respectfully with the ...more
Kathryn, known bibliophile
~this is the fifth book I have read for the Carnegie awards! get involved @

insert official description because ya girl is lazy as heck:

More than a hundred years ago, a boy named Samkad thinks he knows everything about the world. He knows the mountains he lives in. He knows his people. He knows his blood enemy, the Mangili. And he wants to become a man, to be given his own shield, spear and axe to fight with. His best friend, Luki, wants all the same things – but she is a girl,
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unowned
the only criticism I have is this book should have been a bit longer?
anyway I'm a sucker for books that are just different. like, the don't take place in the us like every single other book. AND HISTORICAL FICTION AHHHHHHHH
anyway this was amazing
Kim Tyo-Dickerson
What I have loved about this year's Carnegie Shortlist is the range of stories and voices. Bone Talk blew me away by taking me deep into the history of the Philipines right before the American boot came down on its people. The pre-colonial lives of the Bontok crash headlong, through the voice of young Samran who is poised on the brink of a major rite of passage into manhood, into the colonial presence of American troops. You feel the ancient rhythms of the Bontok way of life, the mythologies, ...more
Stephen Connor
A story set in the Philippines, taking in the American invasions of the late 19th century.

Samdak lives with his community, the Bontok, where his life is mapped out. He will become a man, help his community, and marry. However, when he captures, then loses, one of the Mangili, the Bontok’s sworn enemy, he puts the lives of all of his peers at risk. This is where he learns the difference between being a boy and being a man.

There are some graphic moments here so I wouldn’t use it in primary
Karen Barber
Mar 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Samkad is a boy, desperate to be a man. However, customs dictate he must listen to the ancients of his village and he cannot become a man until his brother is found.
Following Samkad we’re shown what happens to this group when they are taken over by the Americans invading their country.
This was a fascinating read about a period of history that I know nothing of. It highlighted the horrors of Samkad’s experience though it also showed his warmth and compassion.
I loved this book by Candy Gourlay set on her native Philippines at the beginning of the colonial era there. As Candy says, there are no contemporary records from Philippino voices and so Candy had to do a considerable amount of research and talking to people on the ground to understand what the impact of the first white men was. The result is a wonderful book from a well respected author. Loved it!
Yvonne Banham
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book took me by surprise. I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did as I wouldn't choose historical fiction normally, but it was so highly recommended. I loved it. It is beautifully written and the setting and the characters are vividly portrayed. It's interesting from a historical point of view (I really had no idea about this conflict) and from an anthropological point of view (how death and the body are dealt with.) BUT this is a wonderful children's book, and also so relevant in ...more
It’s 1899 and the USA has just betrayed its Filipino nationalist allies, bought the country for $20million from the Spanish and embarked on a war against it (now) former allies to crush the nationalist movement. Yet, this is unknown to Samkad in his Bontoc village deep in Luzon’s Cordillera, as he looks forward with excitement to making the transition to manhood, much to the distress of his best friend Luki, a great fighter, brave and a girl. Yet this is only part of the story. Sam’s life is ...more
Sophie Jones
This was an interesting book to read. I have never read a book about this period of time before or in this part of the world so when I started it did take a while to get in to as it was quite a culture shock.

That being said Candy's use of language is impressive. The descriptions are beautiful and a picture is painted for you so its easy to imagine this place that feels so removed from the world we see around us now.

Characters are pronounced so its easy to remember everyone introduced.

My only
Jack (That English Guy who Reads)
The most fascinating thing about this book is the narrative perspective of a young Philippine boy. It is a story which could (and has, in many other works) been told from a Western/American/colonialist point of view and this is something which Gourlay cleverly uses to her advantage in order to emphasise the exploitation of Philippine natives.

With the audience knowing exactly how the colonists will treat Samkad and his village, it feels very much like watching a terrible unseen through the gaps
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book and found it interesting learning about how indigenous people in the Philippines have been impacted by the Americans. The ending was what I probably liked most about this book. It was a quick and easy read and it was very enjoyable learning about a new culture I had not really known anything about.
Mrs Craig
Nov 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A highly original and interesting book about a period of history I had never even come across before.
Amy TheOriginalBookishDragon
An interesting, original book about a historical period that I was previously unfamiliar with. I was just incredibly disappointed with Luki's story.
Zarah Gagatiga
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Bone Talk is the story of Samkad, a young Bontoc boy at the cusp of manhood. His journey towards becoming one is a thrilling and heart breaking adventure since the setting of the novel happened at a time of conflict and change. It is 1899 and the Philippines has entered a war with the United States of America. His village in the Cordilleras is not spared of the cruelty of invaders. Though, the opportunity to learn from a friendly stranger presents itself. This coming of age story has a lot to
Elmo Hidalgo
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked reading this one, but not at first. I was still adjusting a bit, since from reading something like Frankenstein, which is a classic and old kind of style, to something of this category, which falls in the YA and Modern genre, its a huge leap from one place to another, I would say.

But when the rhythm came to me, it was smooth sailing from there. I started reading it one chapter a day for like 2 days, then decided to read about 3 chapters each day, so that I could burn through at least as
Sarria Butler
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An examination into the Phillipine-American War that follows a small village and a budding young man, Samkad, who is waiting for the day he will become part of the men-folk.
The cultural exploration within this little gem allows young readers to explore how others lived, happily, without western culture forcing itself on them. However, it also tells the age old story of a privileged and advanced society taking advantage of the local civilization they've invaded.

I adored the relationship Samkad
Camilla Chester
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't tell you how good this book is.

Totally honoured to be able to read and review it before it is even released on Amazon as I was lucky enough to attend the launch and pick up my own, beautiful, signed, hardback copy. I read it within two days because I kid you not... it is totally amazing.

We follow the story of Samkad, the ten-year-old son of a great warrior in the Bontok tribe who live in the magnificent highlands of the Philippines. It is set during the time of the American Invasion of
Isobel Ramsden
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bone Talk tells the story of Samkad, who grows up in a mountainous area of the Philippines at the turn of the 19th century. His people, the Bontok, cultivate the mountain terrain (the terraced rice paddies feature on the amazing cover) and are relatively secluded except for the odd skirmish with their enemy, the Mangili. That is until Samkad's father sets out to the lowlands to bring back a long lost Bontok child and brings with him on his return an American, Mister William. A chain of events is ...more
Philip S Davies
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I suggested this book for the Teen Fiction reading group at Blackwell's bookshop in Oxford because I've met the author. There is much to admire about this book: the descriptions of the Philippine mountain and forest setting, the culture and practices of the late 19th Century Bontok tribe, and the story being told from the viewpoint of the victims of colonial imperialism.
I wanted to warm to the young characters more, but found myself irritated by Samkad's stupid mistakes which bring disastrous
Lorelle Calvert
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Immerse yourself in a tale of two worlds colliding

The story begins at the turn of the century in Bontoc and revolves around a young boy who is just about to be a man through the rituals of "the cut" . Set amidst the backdrop of the American Filipino war taking place in the lowlands, village life in the mountains takes a turn when the white men appear.

This rights of passage/ coming of age story seen through the eyes of a young boy is a tale that provides insights to a time and place , a way of
Alexandra Pearson
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book so much! Candy Gourlay creates characters that are relatable despite being from a very different time and place. I'm afraid to say I knew absolutely nothing about the history of the Philippines or about their invasion by America and although this book doesn't delve into the history, it does present the invasion through the eyes of a boy whose world is blown wide open by it.
I especially loved the character of Luki. She's so feisty and fearless.
Also, the cover art is amazing.
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
The world-building was vivid, sweeping me right into the action. And that’s what kept me turning pages—the chase for answers and adventures, packed with very Filipino nuances. I imagined being in the Cordillera, putting my self in the lives of highlanders mingling with lowlanders and foreign captors. I imagined how it was to be in the middle of an invasion, of a war, my knowledge of what already existed and what remained to be unexplored clashing and coming together. I imagined living a version ...more
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
@kidlitexchange #partner

Set in 1899 during the Philippine-American War, “Bone Talk” by Candy Gourlay is a powerful coming of age novel. Samkad is summoned by the ancients and is to become a man but first his “brother,” Kinyo, must come back to the village. Samkad’s father travels to the lowlands to bring Kinyo back. But Kinyo returns with an American and the village is fascinated by this stranger. But all Americans cannot be trusted and the village must also protect itself from their blood
Graine Milner
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: carnegie-2019
Historical novels are not really my favourite, so my enjoyment of this heart-wrenching novel is all the more impressive. Samkad lives in his village, largely peaceful apart from occasional skirmishes with their headhunter enemies. But then the Americans arrive, and everything changes. I was outraged by their careless disregard for the Bontok people and their traditions, desperate for everything to be all right for Samkad and his unfortunate family and villagers. Pacy but thoughtful, it drew me ...more
Definitely an interesting book.
I'm really happy to see different cultures becoming a part of popular children's literature. It never really occurred to me while I was growing up but the majority, if not all, of the characters I read about as a child were either from America or England in most cases, and their first language was English.
So to see a children's book boldly representing some Filipino history, well, that's cool.
However, for my personal taste, the slaughtering of animals was
Mary Taylor Library
Offered an understanding of the culture, traditions and spirituality of an indigenous tribe in Philippines at end of the 19th century. It was an advantage to listen to the author speak about the reason for animal sacrifices, and softened my response to this practice. History is weaved into this story about two young people whose lives are changed by the arrival of Americans. I liked how Samkad's character evolves to a new understanding of what it is to become a man. Luki is a delightful ...more
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Land of Neverendings
  • The House with Chicken Legs
  • Things a Bright Girl Can Do
  • A Skinful of Shadows
  • Rebound
  • The Colour of the Sun
  • Toffee
  • The Boy At the Back of the Class
  • The Poet X
  • The Good Thieves
  • The Skylarks’ War
  • Long Way Down
  • Refugee 87
  • A Good Day for Climbing Trees
  • The Girl Who Speaks Bear
  • My Side of the Diamond
  • Mike
  • The Middler
See similar books…
Hello Goodreaders! Thanks for dropping in on my profile. I can't keep on top of all my social media at the moment because I'm busy writing my third novel. But if you'd like news, do check out my website where I blog now and then, or subscribe to my profile on Facebook. More news when there is any! And happy goodreading!

Candy Gourlay was a journalist writing about dictators in
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »