|The Bone People|
Simon is orphaned and cannot speak. He has the usual gamut of sensory issues that autistic people have and a talent for collecting trinkets, or stealing them depending on your point of view. When he can't express himself he lashes out violently. All of these things resonate with me now as autism has appeared in my own family. Of course all autistic people are different from one another and heaps of them can speak quite well and wouldn't dream of stealing anything. But the character of young Simon is so well drawn that I instantly felt for him.
I can't say this was an easy book to read. The Maori throughout became annoying when I had to break the fictional dream to keep flipping to the glossary. However the story was as engrossing as it was confronting. The dialogue was realistic and I got a real sense of the fragile love each of these three characters had for one another.
This book won the Booker Prize in 1985 and is considered a classic of NZ literature. It's certainly one of those books that stays with you long after you put it down. Give yourself time to read this, it's not light summer entertainment, but it is worth the effort.