Rule of the Bone: Book Review

“Rule of the Bone”, written by Russell Banks and published in 1995, is a beautiful coming of age story. Chappie is a 14-year-old boy who dropped out of school before ninth grade and uses drugs heavily.

After getting kicked out of his house by his mom and abusive stepfather he lives with his friend, Russ, while selling drugs. They hop from place to place and eventually end up living over a video store with a group of bikers. After a while of living there, they leave under urgent circumstances. 

After this, the boys need new identities. Chappie starts going by Bone, and gets a tattoo to represent it. They crash for a couple nights at an abandoned school bus with two college aged boys living in it. Russ and Bone leave the bus and figure it’s better not to come back. After that they find themselves in an unoccupied vacation home for a while before Russ leaves Bone by himself.

Later in the story, he meets I-man, a rastafarian in his late 50s. They grow crops and herbs while I-man teaches Bone about his religion and roots. This is a turning point for Bone in his life. After an unsuccessful attempt to return home, he decides he’ll go to Jamaica with I-man, I-man’s country of origin. Bone learns more and more about himself here, even going through a ritual to find his true self.

The book is filled with emotions, some you recognize and some you don’t. The characters make morally questionable choices, some making you wonder if you should feel bad for them or not. The writing isn’t grammatically correct, it’s what readers would expect from an eighth grade drop out. Run on sentences, no quotes, the basic grammar rule-breaking fills the story. It’s not formal, it’s genuine. This leads the reader to feel more connected to Bone. We understand exactly what he means and how he’s presenting the situation. 

The whole book is genius and heartfelt, a true coming of age story. 

This book will always be 5 stars. 

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