Review Blog

Nov 05 2007

The road of bones by Anne Fine

cover image

Corgi Books
(Age 13+) 'Only a fool cheers when the new prince rises' is a saying not understood by Yuri, living with his parents and grandmother at a time when the ever increasing brutality of the government is something to be seen with guarded eyes. But Yuri, remembering the openness of his youth and the joy of his parents when the new leader took over after years of living under the Czar's autocratic rule, tempts fate and is taken to a gulag where living in appalling circumstances, he learns to guard even his thoughts.

Told from Yuri's point of view, the reader is drawn into the world of the camps, where people are forced to strip the dead for clothing, where the sound of cracking lice between the fingers is a highlight of a day, where men live and die without anyone taking notice. This brutal world is revealed in vivid detail by Fine as she shows clearly the result of over zealous leaders for whom the end justifies the mean. Yuri in escaping wants to find the resistance group and join them in overthrowing the Leadership, and so the story comes in a complete circle, Yuri now wondering what force he can use and how far he should go in telling the people about the new regime, and bending them to its new ways. With his grandmother's saying ringing in his ears, the reader is forced to ask which way he will go, and by association, how far they would go.

Students interested in politics and history, social issues and those looking for a good read, need look no further than this book for an exercise in what means a leader will use in forming a new government. The parallels to many autocratic governments are clear, but it also raises the issue of how people can be caught up in supporting such regimes, and it begs the question of how far to the right many of our modern governments are going, using nationalist fervor to solve problems peculiar to these times. Highly recommended for students who wish to be nudged into giving some thought about what is going on around them.
Fran Knight

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