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4.4 out of 5 stars
The Bone People
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Showing 1-10 of 86 reviews(5 star)show all reviews
on May 5, 2014
I had originally read this as a library book. Liked it so much I had to buy it. My favorite author is Tim Winton and Keri Hulme's work is now just behind him. Woe, that she has not written any more.

The story is one of aboriginal peoples and their relationship with their invaders and how they have altered the tribal world. The style is fluid but intense and the story is compelling - a boy washes up as the only survivor of a boat wreck on the western shore of New Zealand's South Island. He does not speak. The story is about how that silence produces emotions and actions in those who would care for him.
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on December 30, 2005
This was the most haunting book I have ever read. The characters became so real that they returned to my thoughts for months after I had completed reading. Full of laughs and tears, ups and downs, this is my all-time favorite.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2002
A true piece of artwork. On the edition I have one of the comments from reviewers calles Hulme a poet, I couldn't agree more.
The short pieces of Maori languge through the book confused me at first but I do feel that they add something very personal to the feeling of the book (they are translated at the back of the book, although you don't really need to fully understand them).
After the fith reading of 'The Bone People' I can easily say this is my favorite book.
Don't get this book out of the library - you really have to buy it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2002
The Bone People is, quite simply, the most powerful, moving, stunning book I have ever read. The characters are well drawn. I wanted to hate Joe, but he was in so much pain that I couldn't, really. I never excused what he did - and Hulme did not ask the reader to do that. She challenges the reader to look at our society as a whole; to see what we do to people and how we as communities play a role in creating some of the violent, terrible situations that result in children being abused.
I know that some people found that the mysticism in the latter section of the novel took away from the book. I disagree. I found that it fit in well with the story and helped flesh out some of the messages the author was trying to get across. Some of the imagery in this novel is absolutely breathtaking. I have never been so utterly moved and transfixed by a novel as I have by this one. It challenged my perceptions and it made me a different person when I was finished it.
The book is quite long, and it can be slow in a few spots. I found that I had to read it twice. I admit I did hate Joe the first time I read the novel; I really only began to understand him the second time I read the book. This is a complex, multi-layered work that speaks to a wide range of issues: child abuse, spirituality, community, and culture.
I highly recommend this novel to everyone. You may not like it or agree with it, but you will be impacted by it. It still haunts me today.
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on February 18, 2002
This is the kind of book for one who likes to read.I have read it 4 times over the past 10 years and I get new things out of it each time I read it.
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on November 15, 2001
I bought this book while visiting New Zealand on the recommendation of a friend who had never actually read any of Hulme's work.
Keri Hulme possesses a unique, almost addictive writing style. It took a few pages for me to get into her rhythm, but once she had me in her spell I simply could not put the book down. An exquisite blend of prehistoric myth and modern angst.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2001
A uniquely told and emotionally engaging story about a man, a woman, and a child, all with very different voices and perspectives, that is narrated, in turn, in each of the three voices. While at first the changing first person narration can be challenging, as can the interspersed Maori dialect, in time both techniques are powerful in bringing the three characters and their stories to the reader. At times very dark (and sometimes violent), and at times truly beautiful, this is an amazing work of writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2001
Kerewin is a loner living in remote New Zealand whose solitude is invaded by the mysterious mute child called Simon and his guardian Joe. The three slowly form a strong family unit that is later devastated by their various pasts, their pains and anger, their culture. After some time apart, they each heal and find their respective ways back to each other to recreate a new whole. Showcasing the vitality of the Maori ways, Hulme has used universal archetypes that make this story accessible. Yes, the language is challenging and unique. And yet, like writers such as Virginia Woolf, Hulme uses the words themselves, not just the imagery they convey, to move the story and give depth, which ultimately makes the reading a much more enriching experience. It is a story of humanity's hope through the detritus our world society creates in us.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2001
The Bone People is as perfect as a book can be. Although the author's stream-of-consciousnenss style may take a little getting used to for readers of more conventional books, it is as smooth as silk and never jarring. Hulme's manipulation of the third person subjective is masterful and we really come to know each of the three protagonists and feel their deep and continuous pain. Although the subject matter portrayed in The Bone People is dark and often horrendous, the writing itself is lyrical, a testament to Hulme's power as a poet. But make no mistake, The Bone People is a narrative, a superb one, and not a prose poem.
For me, The Bone People is a meditation about the destructive effects of closing oneself to others, of retreating and withdrawing so far into oneself that one is no longer capable of real communication and communion with others.
Each of the three protagonists, because of excessive pain, pain that goes beyond any words, has built and retreated into what he or she hopes will be a protective shell but finds instead a nightmare world, one that leads each to the very brink of death.
I have heard some people say they believe the ending to be trite or "tacked on." I found the ending absolutely perfect, and given each character's "trial by fire," I don't know how Hulme could have written the ending any differently and still maintained the integrity of her book.
I am sure there are many Maori legends, myths and references in The Bone People that I missed as I know little about this fascinating culture. But do not let a lack of Maori knowledge stop you from reading this superb book. It is, above all else, a wonderfully insightful character study that is rich, complex and filled with love and pain beyond measure.
I enjoy reading almost any book I choose to delve into, but few have left me with a feeling of awe. The Bone People is one that did. I am sure I will remember it for a long, long time to come. Indeed, I may never forget it. In short, I simply cannot praise it highly enough.
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on April 24, 2001
This whole book has a feeling of both isolation and the desire for the warmth of human companionship. Each of the very different characters are beautifully and realistically portrayed. They each grow and learn from being in each others presence, and they are all flawed, and very human. Moments in this book are very tough to take, but it is an excellent read, and one of the best modern novels. Definitely not for everybody though. And be prepared for emotional involvement.
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