Digger, an 85 kilo wrestler, and Sadie, a 26-year-old speed swimmer, stand on the verge of realizing every athlete’s dream—winning a gold medal at the Olympics. Both athletes are nearing the end of their careers, and are forced to confront the question: what happens to athletes when their bodies are too worn to compete? The blossoming relationship between Digger and Sadie is tested in the intense months leading up to the Olympics, as demanding training schedules, divided loyalties, and unpredicted obstacles take their draining toll. The Olympics, as both of them are painfully aware, will be the realization or the end of a life’s dream.
From NeWest Press website.
So, this review kicks off Canada Reads week here on the blog. The cool folks at CBC books gave me the opportunity to read all five Canada Reads contenders this year. (Merci!) I’ll be reviewing each finalist and then, the day before the big Canada Reads debates start, I’ll be announcing which book I’m backing. Now, on to the review.
I promise to try not to gush too much. Or, rather, when I do gush I’ll try my darnedest to back it up with the reason that I’m gushing. Cuz there is no freaking way I can talk about this book without a bit of gushage happening.
I simpled loved The Bone Cage. LOVED IT. In fact, I was surprised by just how much I ended up loving this book. I knew it was probably going to be good, but I wasn’t expecting to end up loving it as much as I did, or forming such a strong attachment to both Digger and Sadie.
I know NOTHING about amateur or professional sports. Or at least I didn’t before I stated reading this book. I was instantly sucked into both the world of wrestling and swimming and was blown over by how much dedication it takes to be an athlete. I found it sad that, depending on the sport, an athlete could spend 90% of their time training and have to retire by the time they hit their late 20s. I mean, just imagine it: you have a passion, a drive and by the time most people are hitting their stride, you have to give it all up and try to figure out what to do with your life. This is the main thread through the book, but Abdou didn’t write it in a “waa-waa poor me” kinda way. Since both Digger and Sadie knew their whole career that the time would come when they would have to retire so young, they were very, not nonchalant, but not overly emotional about it, either. Me, on the other hand? Yeah, my emotions were all over the place.
I loved the relationship between Digger and Sadie. The two don’t actually meet until, oh, about halfway through the book, so by the time they do, the reader already knew the two of them as individuals, which was pretty cool. At first I was like “These two are going to become friends? I don’t see it.” But as they got to know each other I realized that they fit perfectly together.
I’m not a huge fan of flowery, self-indulgent prose. For me, I much prefer when a tree is just a tree. I think that’s another reason why I loved The Bone Cage so much. The writing was tight and crisp. It was descriptive, but without going overboard, if you know what I mean. Digger and Sadie’s story is told directly and honestly: these are not perfect characters, and Abdou lets us see that.
The Bone Cage is about sports, yes, but it is about so much more than that. It’s about family, friends, struggle, heartache, triumph and despair. But most importantly it’s about getting through anything and coming out the other side as undamaged as possible. And really, besides a Timmy’s double double, is there anything more Canadian than that?