The Bone Dragon by Alexia Casale
I wanted to read this story as soon as I saw the beautiful cover and read the single line hook: a teenage girl, Evie, carves a tiny dragon from a piece of her rib that has been removed after an operation, and it becomes a powerful symbol of her road to recovery from an abusive past.
Evie’s voice convincingly navigates us through both her wisdom and her anguish. At 14, she’s suffered more pain than many of us will in a lifetime, but this is no misery memoir. Through her dream-like visions and the difficult conversations she has with those trying to help her adjust, we learn just enough of her past to understand what she’s up against. However, the focus is on dealing with the present.
Evie can’t be generous with the specific details of her trauma, but she is with her fluctuating emotions, torn between the courageous drive to move on and a deep desire to avenge her lost innocence. While the dragon is a regular fixture, overall the story is fairly light on the magic realism elements, leaving just enough room for the reader to interpret what is happening.
Recommended for ages 12 and up.
Emily Gale is a Children’s & YA Specialist at Readings Carlton, and a Children’s & YA writer the rest of the time.