Bone and Bread by Saleema Nawaz // This Needs to Win Everyone's Debate

Monday, 4 April 2016
Bone and Bread, by Saleema Nawaz
Publication: February 26, 2013, by House of Anansi Press
Genre: Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Pages: 445
Format: Paperback
Source: Borrowed
Rating: ½

Beena and Sadhana are sisters who share a bond that could only have been shaped by the most unusual of childhoods -- and by shared tragedy. Orphaned as teenagers, they have grown up under the exasperated watch of their Sikh uncle, who runs a bagel shop in Montreal's Hasidic community of Mile End. Together, they try to make sense of the rich, confusing brew of values, rituals, and beliefs that form their inheritance. Yet as they grow towards adulthood, their paths begin to diverge. Beena catches the attention of one of the "bagel boys" and finds herself pregnant at sixteen, while Sadhana drives herself to perfectionism and anorexia.
When we first meet the adult Beena, she is grappling with a fresh grief: Sadhana has died suddenly and strangely, her body lying undiscovered for a week before anyone realizes what has happened. Beena is left with a burden of guilt and an unsettled feeling about the circumstances of her sister's death, which she sets about to uncover. Her search stirs memories and opens wounds, threatening to undo the safe, orderly existence she has painstakingly created for herself and her son.
Heralded across Canada for the power and promise of her debut collection, Mother Superior, Nawaz proves with Bone and Breadthat she is one of our most talented and unique storytellers.

My Thoughts:

I was originally captivated by Saleema Nawaz's Canadian-born story after hearing so many positive things about it because of the Canada Reads debate. Sadly, SPOILER ALERT, it didn't win the debate, but it was pretty great anyways. Bone and Bread is a story that not only intrigues readers and keeps them going, but shares so many themes that every reader would love to see in any contemporary story. This is about two sisters who deal with their own problems as young children, but years later, one is left and readers see problems for Beena: she lives with grief for the rest of her life. This is such a beautiful, beautiful story that I cannot forget about.

Bone and Bread. Think about that title and what do you actually think of? I know that I see a dog bone in the middle of two slices of bread. That's it. That title has so much more depth to the story than readers realize. One of the sisters is bone, the other bread. This has so much sense to it. Saleema Nawaz does not create a story that is just about the characters, though. I really enjoyed this one because it kept me hooked. We readers are kept in a story that features a fast-paced plot in a beautiful city, Montreal. I haven't read a Canadian story in a long time, that's for sure. 

One gif. That's all.
Looking back at my experience, it could have been better when looking at the grief part of things, but I enjoyed it either way, you know? I felt like I was underwater, trying to swim for the surface at times. I wanted to grasp that extra inch of goodness, but it never came towards me, that last fish. I enjoyed the flashbacks back and forth to the sisters' childhoods and back to where Beena stays on her own. And then of course, there is the mental illness factor that everyone is obsessed with. I'm not complaining. That is the best thing that an author could add to put the puzzle pieces together.

Bone and Bread deserves every piece of hype that it has gotten, but of course, only the good hype. The fabulous author provides readers a beautiful relationship of a sisterhood that ended too quickly, and an amazing character of a girl who has to undergo grief, living in a beautiful city, understanding her demons. This is a must-read for every teen, adult, mom, sister, daughter out there. Right now. 

What is another really good Canadian novel? Does this intrigue you? What are other good mental illness stories?

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