Front cover of an edition of The Bone people.

The Bone People is a novel by Keri Hulme with three main characters who are all experiencing very different issues in their lives. The book begins with their meeting.

The action takes place in New Zealand. Kerewin Holmes lives alone in an unusual home -- a tower. She meets Simon, a mute child, when he visits uninvited. And through him, she meets Joe Gillayley, his foster father. Kerewin, who is a bit of a hermit, finds herself adopted into the family and pulled into events and relationships. The story begins from her point of view and over the course of events, the point of view switches. Some events are told from multiple points of view.

A glossary at the end of the book defines many of the Maori phrases that are used.

Copyright: 1983
ISBN 0-14-008922-5


Winner of the 1985 Booker Prize and the Pegasus Prize for Literature

Themes or Topics

Questions raised:

  • How does one heal -- physically or emotionally?
  • How can you abuse someone you love?
  • How can you love someone who abuses you?
  • What's best for the child?


While this book is excellent, it deals with serious, difficult subject matter, including cancer, child abuse, drug dealers, various religious and ethical beliefs. So, I would not recommend it for young children. However, I highly recommend it for adults. Read the poem that is at the beginning of the book (the prologue) again once you've finished it. If you like this book, I recommend Cold Sassy Tree too. --CocoaZen 04:56, 6 March 2007 (UTC)


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