The Bone People
"A family can be the bane of one's existence. A family can also be most of the meaning of one's existence. I don't know whether my family is bane or meaning, but they have surely gone away and left a large hole in my heart." (p. 242)
Keri Hulme's Booker prize-winning novel is about the healing power of relationships and family bonds. Kerewin is an artist and recluse, unmarried and estranged from her family. Joe is a widowed laborer with a violent temper. Simon, Joe's foster son, lost his parents in a boating accident. Simon's specific identity is unknown, he cannot speak, and he has suffered severe emotional trauma. These three very lonely people come together when Simon breaks into Kerewin's house. Slowly, tentatively, Joe and Simon reach out to Kerewin. Slowly, tentatively, she accepts their attentions. After a long holiday at a seaside camp they are as close to a family as any of them have ever experienced. However, the dark side of each character looms large, and when the inevitable happens each character is shaken to their very core and must choose when and how to begin the healing process.
Hulme's writing style is unorthodox, yet I found this book difficult to put down. I was completely committed to the characters, despite their often significant flaws. The insights into Maori culture were interesting. Although I was a bit uncertain how the ending came together the way it did, I very much enjoyed the journey. ( )