In The Bones of Me, Kel Duckhouse tells the story of Molly and her East London family. Molly’s brother Denny is a boxer and Molly wants so much to join him in the ring. The family is poor, Dad is depressed and Mum is stoic but they are tight, or so it seems. When Denny is wanted by the police for a serious assault outside his boxing gym, Molly’s world seems to begin to crumble around her.
Told in a combination of first-person prose and verse, Duckhouse develops a strong character and voice for Molly – a high school teen trying to hold things together. In a series of slightly awkward flashbacks, Molly and Denny’s relationship is described and explored. Molly doesn’t believe that Denny is guilty but as he’s disappeared it looks more and more likely that perhaps he did do something wrong. Molly and her new boxing friend Kwaku decide to investigate. Where has Denny gone? Where might he be hiding? And as they start uncovering possible clues Molly starts to wonder if she really ever knew her beloved brother at all.
As a narrative, The Bones of Me centres on boxing and the ring. But at its heart it’s a story of family and loyalty. Set against a background of secrecy and poverty, it’s a story that anyone can connect with.
When Molly finally recognises that “Dreams can come true for people [her], [they] just have to fight for them”, she puts herself to the test of answering the questions of her life and the life of her family. Past and present collide to provide a backdrop to this story about boxing and fighting both in the ring and out of it.
Recommended for slightly older readers in KS3 as well as those in KS4.
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