The Bone Sparrow was one of the first books I read in 2017 and I’m ashamed to admit that I was shamefully ignorant of the refugee crisis in Australia beforehand. My knowledge is very Euro-centric and it’s something I need to work on. This book highlighted the human rights abuses towards Rohingya refugees from Mayanmar in Australia detention camps.
The narrator, a boy born in such a camp, navigates the cruelty of the camp guards, the quiet depression of his mother, the fleeting safety of his best friend and the cynicism of his sister in a lyrical, child-like way. He reads to a local girl who sneaks in at night and watches as tensions rise within the camp with devastating consequences.
It’s a tragic story because it’s grounded in such a horrific reality. Endorsed by Amnesty International, Subhi’s story is one of millions of Muslim refugees around the world who are treated with cruelty and suspicion and are vilified by mainstream medias.
Of course, it’s also a story that needs to be told by refugees in their own words, and I’m seeking more and more diaspora stories written by people with that experience (if anyone has any recommendations then please let me know!) because it’s important that they tell their own stories.
I was given this book on the London Bookshop Crawl by my friend Bex with very little idea of what to expect. I love Shappi Khorsandi’s comedy so the fact that she’d written it was a big selling point for me. Despite me having no idea of expectations this book still managed to surpass them.
Nina Is Not OK is about seventeen year old Nina, whose dad drinks himself to death when she’s nine, shortly after her boyfriend moves to Hong Kong. Her drunken exploits are notorious at college, she’s drinking more and more and insists she doesn’t have a problem. But she can’t remember one night in particular and the situations she’s getting herself in to are becoming far more dangerous.
I cried a lot reading this book. Personally, Nina’s path is one I narrowly escaped; my dad didn’t die of alcoholism until I was twenty, so I grew up very aware of the dangers of alcohol and skipped that whole teenage-rebellion-drinking-until-you-puke stage until I was a lot older than Nina and was angry enough to lash out at everything and everyone. I could have very easily been her.
The bits that got me in the story, though, were Nina’s thoughts on what might have happened if her dad had lived long enough to get help. It’s something that occurs to you daily when you lose someone to addiction and Shappi Khorsandi writes it very very well, as well as that weird juxtaposition between life then and now, and how hard it is to feel like you fit in to a life without that chaos and worry daily.
It was a much harder read than I was expecting, and is warn heavily for sexual assault, rape and talk of addiction and death from it. But it’s also very hopeful. Nina is not OK, but you feel like she will be.
Hello everyone! I’ve fallen off the face of WordPress for a while now; things got so drab and dreary over winter that I had zero motivation to take book review photos and now I’m about 40 books behind in reviewing! I’m hoping to get back in to the swing of things this week so I can share all of the wonderful books I’ve read since… November? I’ve also had the London Bookshop Crawl (haul above) to talk about which I really need to do because it was such a good day.
Bye for now, but hopefully I’ll see you soon!