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No Bones


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Author of the Man Booker Prize-winning novel Milkman

About the Author

anna burns was born in Belfast in 1962. She moved to London in 1987. This is her first book.


A young woman struggles with growing up in Belfast during the Troubles in this darkly humorous, sexually twisted debut. It starts off solidly as a coming-of-age story about Amelia Lovett, who spends her childhood playing with rubber bullets while her family dodges real ones in the ongoing battle between the Brits and the IRA. Amelia's dangerous road continues when she enters school and has to fight off some fellow schoolgirls after they start a riot. Once her brief academic career peters out, she immediately goes on the dole and begins to hit the local Belfast clubs. Real trouble creeps in when she begins displaying symptoms of anorexia, and it doesn't take long before living with her crazy family in the ongoing calamity that is Belfast sends her straight toward a full-blown breakdown. Burns does well in the early going as she captures the tainted innocence of Amelia's early childhood, but her narrative turns lurid during a lengthy passage describing how escapees from a mental home wind up in the middle of the fighting and then end up hanging out with Amelia. The chapters detailing her subsequent mental collapse are downright cartoonish, but the biggest problem is that Burns never really connects the character dots in Amelia's downfall, making the transformation from innocent child to party girl to mental patient seem disjointed and unreal. Burns shows flashes of talent in the early chapters, but the problems in the second half overshadow the early promise. (May) Forecast: Norton has hopes of making Burns look like the next Roddy Doyle, but don't count on it yet moments of black humor and adolescent angst do not a Paddy Clark make, and promotional plans for the title are on the slim side. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

'Fresh, original shot through with energy and drama right from the start' The Times 'Amelia Lovett is just an ordinary little girl caught up in extraordinary circumstances. No Bones tracks the tragi-comic fortunes of the Lovett family of Belfast - the shrewdly mad mother; malevolent Mick; and dreamy Amelia, our narrator, who records their antics over the years. Anna Burns recreates the dark days beautifully and evokes the spirit of the times with compassion and understanding No Bones gives an insight into a difficult and dangerous period of our history from a refreshing point of view and speaks the truth in a way that only a child can do.' Irish News 'The use of language is stunning, powerful and controlled the story of Amelia's struggle for sanity is compelling.' Daily Telegraph 'This account of a girl's life growing up in Belfast during the Troubles, which examines madness and sanity and questions our interpretation of both, is scary. Scarily well written, too.' Martina Devlin, Irish Independent

This bloody but brilliant first novel about Amelia, a Belfast native growing up during the Troubles, tackles so many issues senseless violence, anorexia, incest, rape, mental illness, and hopelessness, not to mention Catholics vs. Protestants that it makes the McCourt boys' battles with poverty and alcoholism seem simple in comparison. Yet Burns's description is so believable that one desperately hopes this novel is not autobiographical. Scene after scene is dead-on, such as when the ranting Miss Hanratty instructs Amelia's class to write a poem about peace and threatens to "multiple-slap anybody who didn't get it right." Later, when Amelia is stalked by schoolgirl toughs, she reviews her mother's rules for fighting and realizes that the rules don't work for her. In a final episode, Amelia and her friends, now in their 30s, attempt a day trip away from their violent but sheltered neighborhood and are completely unable to function as normal people enjoying a day off. This stunning novel may not appeal to everyone but comes highly recommended. Christine Perkins, Jackson Cty. Lib. Svcs., Medford, OR Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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