Margaret Robson Kett reviews 'The Bone Sparrow' by Zana Fraillon

Subhi lives with Maa and his older sister Queeny in ‘Family Three’, hoping that the ‘Night Sea’ will bring his Ba back to them. Born in detention to his Rohingya mother after she arrived illegally in Australia, his friend Eli and a kindly ‘Jacket’ make his life one of fitful pleasures amid the uncertainties of camp life. On the other side of the fence, in the nearby community, Jimmie feels besieged by grief following her mother’s death. She needs the comfort of reliving her mother’s stories, which are kept in a treasured book. A mostly absent father and an uncaring brother won’t share them with her; so, since she can’t read her, the stories are lost to her as well. These unlikely individuals meet at a ‘squeezeway’ in the wire, and their mutual needs help them to escape their separate worlds, for a time.

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Published in December 2016, no. 387