It might shock you to learn that the author of a book about cannibalism is a vegan. I know I raised an eyebrow when I learned this little fact and decided to do a review of this book, but with any book that I pick up I always enter a story with an open mind.
Bones & All by Camille DeAngelis is the story of a young girl, Maren. Maren is like most sixteen year old girls, she wants to fit in, she wants to have a normal life, she wants to be loved, but unlike most sixteen year old girls Maren is a cannibal. She doesn’t like that she does the “bad thing” and often tries to fight the urge but inevitably she ends up giving into her desires. Everytime she does the “bad thing”, she and her mother have to pack up and leave so that no one finds out. That has been their life for the last sixteen years. Moving from place to place to avoid people finding about Maren’s secret.
Then on her sixteenth birthday her mother leaves her and she is suddenly on her own. She is left with some money and her birth certificate and decides to set out to find her father. She feels like her father is the key to learning about why she has a desire to eat people. So she sets out on a journey where she learns so much more than she expected like there are other eaters out there, there are people who are kind and there are people who are not what they seem. She also learns more about who she is as a person and while she might not know exactly why she is this way, every person has something inside that they are trying to grapple with.
I have to say that I liked this book way more than I expected I would. While I didn’t totally know what to expect when I started I didn’t think that I would be sucked into a story about cannibals. But when I started and was suddenly on page 60 within an hour I knew that I was enjoying the story. I think the main reason that this book works for such a large audience is that the characters are very relatable. While I’m guessing that no one who reads this book has actually eaten a human, we all have something that we are ashamed of or might be trying to hide. We have all gone through a time where we are just trying to find our way in the world and have to deal with the hand that has been given to us.
It’s also an interesting story to read as a vegan, especially one who has not always been a vegan. It made me think about the first time that what was on my plate had been a living breathing being. It had life and now I was eating it. That made me be able to relate to the feelings of guilt that Maren has throughout the book, especially because the people she tends to eat are those that start to get too close to her. DeAngelis wrote a blog post about why she as a vegan decided to write a book about cannibalism and does a great job of explaining those feelings I had throughout the story.
I would categorize this as a young adult book, but I think reader of all ages can enjoy it. DeAngelis writes in an easy and simple way that allows the reader to really get into the story and feel like they are right there with the characters. The book as whole was very good although towards the end it started to feel a little choppy. Once she reached the big climax, the ending felt like a bit of a letdown to me, but then again I think she chose the right ending for the theme of the book. Life isn’t always perfect nor does it always have a happy ending and we have to learn to deal with that. Overall I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a quick and thrilling read. I would also suggest that any person who might be struggling with being vegan or deciding to adopt a vegan lifestyle read this book. You will find some of those same struggles and may be able to work through them along with Maren.