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Mr Nichols, Readers are Leaders

Bone Talk

The story takes you back to a completely different time and place not usually explored within fiction. The setting of the tale in the Philippines is what first brought me to this book. It explores in a skilful way the impact of colonial imperialism upon the islands, specifically the Cordeillera region.
The journey seamlessly takes the reader through the culture, customs and collective experience of the natives, through the eyes of our young character Samkad. This, for me was the selling point of the book – to learn so much about the history of a part of the world I have little knowledge of most certainly lifted this book of the shelf for me. You could tell Gourlay utilised her personal experiences as well as her extensive research to stich this novel together.
The plot however was another matter.
Although a gripping and exciting story that tackles the rite of passage into manhood, initiations and the cliché motif of transcending into adulthood (so common in teen fiction today!) I felt that the story belonged more to the 21st century than the 19th. Luki, our female protagonist who challenges the male authority that envelopes her seemed to borrow more contemporary features of female characters that we too often find in teen fiction; although she is brave courageous and interesting as a character, most certainly capturing the interest of younger audiences today, for me, I would have much preferred to see her fall in line with the brutality of the colonial age and adhere to the constraints placed upon her.
All in all, Bone Talk is a gripping and exciting tale that I would most certainly recommend to any young reader. I think that the novel itself though, through skilfully transporting the reader into a complete different context serves well as a construct to deliver the rich and often interesting history and culture of 19th Century Philippines.

Posted on: 12th July 2019 at 09:37 am

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