Book Review: Bone and Bread by Saleema Nawaz
by Saleema Nawaz
House of Anansi, 2012
Bone and Bread prompted the longest discussion amongst our book club members of any book we have shared together. (That should prompt you to read it to check it out for yourself, I think.) There is so much to like about this book, and so much to question.
We all approved of the book overall, yet we all disliked at least one aspect of the book. Some of our reservations caused grave concern. Two of the plot developments, in particular, caused us to question the validity of the story. That’s a big problem. If we can’t believe the story, can we really celebrate it?
These plot developments would have worked in a magical book. If Nawaz had established early a mystical quality to the story, we would have bought in wholeheartedly, but this book has a tone of straight literary fiction, so implausible plot developments made us stop and say, “Really?”
Those big stumbling blocks aside, Nawaz writes beautifully and creates likeable, believable characters. She explores anorexia with clear compassion and writes about it in a way that both informs and entertains. Her story centers primarily, but not tiresomely, around the timeless themes of racial tensions and strained family relationships. Our book club members live in Ottawa and Montreal—the two cities featured in the story—so the settings resonated with us in a personal way.
I recommend approaching this book in a magical frame of mind. If you let the story be, it’s an enjoyable read.