Book Review: Bones & All by Camille DeAngelis

Bones & AllBones & All
Camille DeAngelis
St. Martin’s Press, March 2015
ISBN 978-1-250-04650-5

From the publisher—

Maren Yearly is a young woman who wants the same things we all do. She wants to be someone people admire and respect. She wants to be loved. But her secret, shameful needs have forced her into exile. She hates herself for the bad thing she does, for what it’s done to her family and her sense of identity; for how it dictates her place in the world and how people see her–how they judge her. She didn’t choose to be this way.

Because Maren Yearly doesn’t just break hearts, she devours them. Ever since her mother found Penny Wilson’s eardrum in her mouth when Maren was just two years old, she knew life would never be normal for either of them. Love may come in many shapes and sizes, but for Maren, it always ends the same–with her hiding the evidence and her mother packing up the car.

But when her mother abandons her the day after her sixteenth birthday, Maren goes looking for the father she has never known, and finds much more than she bargained for along the way.

Faced with a world of fellow eaters, potential enemies, and the prospect of love, Maren realizes she isn’t only looking for her father, she’s looking for herself.

Maren Yearly is most certainly unlike any character I’ve met before: Maren eats people, especially people who seem to like her and, one day, Maren finds herself on her own because her mother has abandoned her out of fear for her life. Rather than fall apart, Maren sets out to find the father who has never been part of her life and, perhaps, answers to the questions that have always loomed over her.

Now, one might question the appeal of reading about a cannibal, particularly with the rather gruesome scenes that are bound to occur (and they do) but the first chapter reeled me in by starting off with Maren’s first “meal”when she was just a baby and then moving on to a scene 16 years later when her mother deserts her, finally drained of all ability to protect and love her daughter. This conjunction of two kinds of pathos led me to think I wanted to know how Maren would cope and I’m so glad I pushed on.

Bones & All is an odd story, no doubt about it, and it most likely won’t appeal to a broad spectrum of readers but this is more than just a horror novel; this is the journey a young girl must take to accept herself and, as such, Ms. DeAngelis has done a nice job. It also carries a bit of an agenda but not obtrusively and the reader is free to embrace or ignore said agenda. In the end, it’s the story that matters most.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2015.