Book Reviews of The Bone People

The Bone People
The Bone People
Author: Keri Hulme
ISBN-13: 9780330293877
ISBN-10: 0330293877
Publication Date: 7/4/1986
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.

5 stars, based on 2 ratings
Publisher: Pan MacMillan
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

17 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed The Bone People on + 39 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 11
This is a book that lingers. I picked it up because of the cover and title.. which reached out to me. There were many things in the book that were so real, and deep.
Sometimes it was hard to read.
This is fiction that tells the truth.
reviewed The Bone People on + 87 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
This is an intense and harrowing book, and I loved it. Reading this book really hurt. It's a wrenching portrayal of strong and intelligent people whose own strength is tearing themselves apart, and whose unflinching acceptance of reality can't overcome the damage done to them. I fell in love with Kerewin, brilliant and loquacious, and slowly eating herself alive.
reviewed The Bone People on + 1073 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
Powerful and disturbing book. An abused and traumatized child, a man whose dreams have died one by one, and a woman who has shut herself off from life come together in a mixture of violence and love that threatens to destroy all of them.
reviewed The Bone People on + 200 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
I loved this book. I have lived in New Zealand, and the descriptive writing really gives you a sense of the people and landscape of those islands. There is a lot of Maori language used (thankfully, there's a section at the end that explains and translates), and it adds to the exotic-yet-familiar feel of the writing. There are disturbing issues among the characters, including serious child abuse, which should be noted by those sensitive to such topics. Very highly recommended for fans of contemporary or New Zealand literature.
reviewed The Bone People on + 5 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This is a really interesting book! It's suspenseful and intelligently-written, and I highly recommend it.

From the back of the book...

"In a tower on the New Zealand sea lives Kerewin Holmes, part Maori, part European, an artist estranged from her art, a woman in exile from her family. One night her solitude is disrupted by a visitor-- a speechless, mercurial boy named Simon, who tries to steal from her and then repays her with his most prized posession. As Kerewin succumbs to Simon's federal charm, she also falls under the spell of his Maori foster father Joe, who rescued the boy from a shipwreck and now treats him with an unsettling mixture of tenderness and brutality. Out of this unorthodox trinity Keri Hulme has created what is at once a mystery, a love story, and an ambitious exploration of the zone where Maori and European New Zealand meet, clash, and sometimes merge."
reviewed The Bone People on + 8 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This is the kind of book that stays with you for a long time after you finish it. I loved the lyrical language woven in with a very compelling story about the unique bond between three misfits. The Bone People presented a different view of love and all its many colors--from the dark and shadowed to the bright and joyful.
reviewed The Bone People on + 68 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This is an offbeat book, very tender and touching.
reviewed The Bone People on + 19 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Kerewin Holmes lives alone in a tower by the New Zealand Sea. Part Maori, part European, she is a writer, a painter and something of a hermit. One day Simon, a mute, bedraggled, silver-haired boy, enters her tower and her life. Soon Kerewin becomes tied, by bonds of love, and of brutality, to Simon and his Maori father, Joe.

The Los Angeles Times said: "A novel that is mysterious and violent, gentle and unsettling, compassionate and honest."

This is a good book, but it is not an easy read -- there are parts that are fascinating, parts that are disturbing. . .
reviewed The Bone People on + 8 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Takes a bit to get into this novel, written from the viewpoint of its three main characters with the odd ancestor or first cousin thrown in, but it's most rewarding.
Jumping from instant-replay scenes to gaps of months' time, from slapstick to mystic, adds to the fullness. A book you will not forget.
reviewed The Bone People on
Helpful Score: 1
This book although it contains some disturbing content, is beautifully written and insightful. It is poetic and strong and the characters are uncompromising in a good way.
reviewed The Bone People on + 50 more book reviews
In a small town on the South Island of New Zealand, Kerewin, a blocked artist, lives in a handbuilt medieval-style tower on the beach-front in odd, dreamlike isolation. Her intense privacy is abruptly invaded by Simon, an odd pirate of a child washed ashore after being shipwrecked around the age of 2, his background still a mystery. Now a mute but angry 6 year old, Simon is loving, sarcastic, frustrated, whip-smart, and determined to be understood - by all means necessary, both loving and violent...with healthy doses of kleptomania and acting-out thrown in. His Maori foster father, Joe, cares so deeply for the child that he alternates showering him with conventional love with a disturbing pattern of increasingly harsh beatings to discipline Simon into some semblance of civilized behavior. In an interesting twist, the author makes it possible to see the humanity in a so-called "child beater" along with the cruel and expert ways children engage in manipulation.

While the first 2/3s of the book are riveting (my advice: just let it kind of wash over you), the resolution feels forced and meanders aimlessly, indulging the author's tendencies toward stream-of-thought wordplay and flat-out weirdness.
reviewed The Bone People on + 6 more book reviews
An engrossing, elliptical, mystical vignette of the Maori heritage in New Zealand. Emotionally challenging, but ultimately rewarding.
reviewed The Bone People on + 41 more book reviews
very tedious and a hard read
reviewed The Bone People on + 175 more book reviews
reviewed The Bone People on + 12 more book reviews
good book
reviewed The Bone People on
We have this permanently on our PBS wish list, just so we can give copies to friends.
reviewed The Bone People on + 942 more book reviews
This is an incredible read about a culture I learned to appreciate and I hope understand better. The characters, Simon, Kerewin and even Joe, are compelling, so very real and their lives and interactions are heart-rending. The book is the best I've read in months. In my opinion, the character development is far beyond what most authors offer the reader.

The story is largely told from the viewpoints of all three characters whose love and respect for each other binds them together. Joe is dealing with the death of his beloved wife who he lost far too soon. He drinks too much and is inclined to violence. When he takes in Simon, he feels that this lost boy may somehow fill some of the gaps he feels. But Joe's loss prompts him to react brutally to a child who cannot speak when he disobeys Joe. Simon was found on the beach after a terrible storm with no identification. No one knows who his parents may be and Simon struggles with memories he doesn't understand. His actions often erupt in socially unacceptable ways. Kerewin is an intensely private woman who is estranged from her family. Bit by bit she discovers a family she really understood as her interaction with Joe and Simon increase.

The violence, the frustration, and the love of the individuals portrayed in this novel exhibit is all too real. I couldn't put this read aside until I had finished the book. Not sure the ending is what I would choose but the author does tie everything together at that point. Excellent read in all other ways.