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  • Barbara Copperthwaite

Review: BONE BY BONE, Sanjida Kay

Bone by Bone, by Sanjida Kay. Review by Barbara Copperthwaite

“This is a story that will get under the skin of many parents…”


Laura loves her daughter more than anything in the world.

But nine-year-old daughter Autumn is being bullied. Laura feels helpless.

When Autumn fails to return home from school one day, Laura goes looking for her. She finds a crowd of older children taunting her little girl.

In the heat of the moment, Laura makes a terrible choice. A choice that will have devastating consequences for her and her daughter...


This is a totally different take on a crime book, and taps into a very real fear for parents. With alternating sections from the mother’s point of view and the daughter’s, it conveys the helplessness and frustration of being bullied – and the devastating consequences.

The sections from little Autumn’s perspective do seem a little adult, though, in their language and processing. The voice of a child may not have been captured fully, but her world is. There are some heartbreaking little touches that so simply convey an eight-year-old rejected by everyone: children whispering behind their hands; telling her: “This seat is taken”; not being invited to sleepovers. From there things take a more sinister turn…

As a reader, your heart can’t help going out not just to Autumn but to Laura, too. Her own anger, frustration and helplessness are palpable. She simply wants to protect her child, but what is the best way of doing that? Laura becomes overwhelmed by the situation, which soon spirals out of control. The author creates real tension.

Some of the decision-making by characters was a little dubious, in all honesty, but I’m happy to overlook it because Bone by Bone was such a clever idea. It is handled with beautiful sensitivity and emotional depth. This is a story that will get under the skin of many parents…

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