Bone Dance

Bone Dance by Martha Brooks.  This book was a stunner. I’m embarrassed that I’d never heard of it or of Brooks before.  She’s writing wonderful, award-winning YA books and is from Manitoba.  How have I not heard of her before now?

The language is polished, at times biting or lyrical. The characters drive everything and have depth and originality. Bone Dance crossed the invisible line and is literature.

I grew up all over the prairies, and this book feels like home. Brooks nails the landscape like no other author I’ve read. While books with spirits often insert them with a heavy hand (Warning: Native moment ahead), the spirits and the dreams of this book seem real, as though they’re part of the ecosystem of the characters.

A few bits to keep:

Running in a dark winter park, teens howling wolf-like:
“She stopped to watch the others howling and leaping. And it was at this moment that she knew her grandfather had just moved, without saying good-bye, far beyond her reach. With absolute certainty, her heart thudding against her chest, she knew that he had slipped past her, past them all, past the dark of winter and midnight and consciousness and eating and sleeping and caring. Then she watched as her own breath rose in front of her astonished eyes, took form, and floated like a spirit hand on the crystal air.”

“Here he was, almost eighteen years old, and still, even in his waking life, the damn tears could come. They rolled from his eyes and fell through soap clouds into the dishwater.”

“But wishing won’t change things, he thought. It’s just a trick you play on yourself when you come up against something that makes you wake up inside your life.”


I was happy to find a book set in modern times that I enjoy.  Today hardly ever attracts me. I like historical fiction, futuristic fiction, fantasy…but London or Toronto or Small Town Nowhere just don’t call out.  I wonder, why would I read that when I’m living it?  This book doesn’t whine or mope or do anything but elevate and crystalize.  It’s excellent and I hope you’ll read it and hand it to your teen.


One thought on “Bone Dance

  1. Jen says:

    I love Martha Brooks. I have both of the books she wrote about the Ninette sanitorium (Autographed by her last year at a book launch) and they are amazing. One is her own story about growing up at the San (A Hill for Looking) and the other one is a work of fiction she based around some photographs from the San archives that inspired her (Queen of Hearts). She is a lovely person and can tell a great story.

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