Book Review: The Bone Sparrow, Zana Fraillon (2016)

Friday, November 4th, 2016

A raw, unflinching, powerful, and very necessary book.

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley. Trigger warning for violence.)

I find my notebook and pencil and I start to write. The letters flow from deep inside me without even a pause to worry about which way is which and where to put what. And my head fills with memories and stories from so long ago that fences weren’t even invented yet. Stories that haven’t even happened yet. Stories that the world won’t see for years and years. All those stories swirl through my head, but I suck them all in and tell them to wait. Because first I have to write the most important story of them all. The story which isn’t even a story. The story that has to be told, no matter how hard it is to tell.

Ten-year-old Subhi was born in an Australian detention center. Originally from Burma (Myanmar), his Maá and older sister Queeny (Noor) were forcibly removed by soldiers, put on a boat and compelled to set sail at gunpoint. His ba, a poet, was imprisoned by the government.

Their offense? Subhi and his family are Rohingya, an ethnic Muslim minority living in Buddhist-majority Myanmar. In the Author’s Note, Fraillon explains that “the United Nations and Amnesty International have declared the Rohingya to be one of the most persecuted people on earth, and a recent investigation by Al Jazeera News suggested that the government of Myanmar is committing genocide in its treatment of the Rohingya. The Rohingya are being hunted into extinction.”

For the past decade, they’ve been in limbo: unable to return to their native country, but unwelcome where they washed up. Like the United States, Australia has a policy of mandatory detention; refugees are treated much like criminals.

In order to keep his mind from turning to “mush,” Subhi clings to stories – the familiar, well-worn tales of his family, and new ones belonging to the nine hundred other refugees who live in the detention center alongside him. Especially cherished are those stories dreamed up by his ba; stories of the Night Sea, which sometimes washes over Subhi’s camp as he dreams, leaving cryptic treasures in its wake: A small statue of a knight. A little blue toy car. A sketch of a thousand birds in flight. A green coin rimmed with black smudges. Subhi believes that these are messages, sent by his ba – and that, one day, he’ll come in person to rescue them from this non-existence.

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Kinship Circle: Victoria Burning – Help Animal Fire Victims In Australia

Monday, February 16th, 2009

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Kinship Circle – kinshipcircle [at] accessus.net
Date: Thu, Feb 12, 2009 at 6:27 PM
Subject: Victoria Burning – Help Animal Fire Victims In Australia

KINSHIP CIRCLE ANIMAL DISASTER AID NETWORK

ONLINE VOLUNTEER FORM: Tell us what you can do! Be on file in our Disaster Aid Network: http://www.kinshipcircle.org/disasters/volunteer/default.html

2/13/09: Victoria Burning – Help Animal Fire Victims

IN THIS ALERT:

1. KC Directory: Animal Relief Efforts You Can Help. Millions Died…
2. Nigel’s Animal Rescue: Send Money & Supplies ASAP
3. Wildlife Victoria: Overwhelmed With Fire Victims
4. Help For Wildlife: Long Recovery Ahead For Animals
5. RSPCA: Emergency Aid For Companion Animals
6. Wildlife Burning
7. IFAW: Team On The Ground For Animals In Victoria
8. Survivors Of The Fire – Symbols of Hope

Kinship Circle - 2009-02-13 - Victoria Burning 01

Kinship Circle - 2009-02-13 - Victoria Burning 02

Kinship Circle - 2009-02-13 - Victoria Burning 03

Please review resources below to see WHO and HOW to help.

PHOTOS: Help For Wildlife, Victoria (Australia) — http://www.helpforwildlife.com/bushfires/photos.html

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