The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon

It only took a few pages for me to fall in love with Subhi, an innocent, wildly imaginative, 10-year old refugee. Subhi was born in a permanent detention centre in Australia. We quickly learn that his spirit cannot be confined, as the Night Sea delivers gifts from his Father, while the faraway whales sing out to him, and his wise-cracking rubber duck keeps him company.

Jimmie, a girl from “the outside” who has also suffered deep loss, finds a way into the centre, where the two strike up a friendship. They find solace in their stories.

The Bone Sparrow broke my heart and filled it up in equal measure. Fraillon doesn’t shy away from describing the hunger strikes and mistreatment that are a part of Subhi’s world, and the world of many refugees. She weaves a message of hope into this harsh reality while teaching us the importance of stories. This is an important story.

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