Boys, Beans, “Bones and All”: A book review

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Beneath the piles of flesh and blood, Camille DeAngelis’ “Bones and All” is a coming-of-age story about a young girl, Maren, learning to navigate life as a cannibalistic teenager.

Ever since she was a child, Maren has been a “eater” and struggles to come to terms with her inability to control her hunger around boys. Afraid of what her daughter is capable of, her mother leaves Maren after her 16th birthday and for the first time in her life, Maren is alone. With just $600 in cash, a backpack, and sheer determination, Maren begins her journey across the country to find her father.

While on her mission, Maren encounters another “eater” Lee; and together they yearn to fit in while trying to suppress their cannibalistic urges.

Maren’s character is not easy to love, having been emotionally neglected all her life by her mother and abandoned by her father before she was born, her decision-making skills are not her strongest costume, which makes it very frustrating to support her.

After readers learn of Maren’s many sexual encounters with boys too young, it becomes apparent that this story is a commentary on reframing the man-eating trope, in a much more innocent and childish way. Even after sixteen years of unhealthy eating habits, Maren literally chooses to devour her complex feelings towards men instead of finding a healthy way to come to terms with her horrible past.

Impulse control is not something Maren is familiar with, nor does she begin to attempt to control such urges. “Bones and All” portrays Maren as a volatile predator who eats his prepubescent prey alive, but beneath his hardened facade lies a wounded child who yearns only for the comforts of a parent and a normal life.

I devoured this book, pages and all. This story wasn’t exactly the scary story I expected to get your feet off the bed, but I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of the plot.

The book itself is very ambitious, but to expect readers to believe that a baby is capable of devouring a entire person was a bit of a stretch, even for a fantasy novel. Its strengths lie in character development, not believability. Often readers wonder what just happened. I wouldn’t be aware that Maren actually consumed someone until several chapters later due to the vague writing of the scene.

DeAngelis makes up for his lack of detail with an incredible job of expressing the grief Maren struggles with immediately after dining on his somewhat innocent victims. Readers really feel like they’re passing out alongside Maren and waking up with blood on their hands as well.

I picked up this book thinking I would need a nightlight to sleep, but ended up wiping away more tears than I expected. Maybe too many years of unsupervised Internet access as a child have rotted my perception of horror, but the scariest thing about this book was the constant consumption of beans straight out of the box.

Despite my grievances, I have to conclude that this book was very enjoyable to read and would recommend it to anyone looking for an excuse to cry uncontrollably and loudly in front of their roommates. This book has everything to please: mom and daddy issues, half eaten corpses, intrusive men and lots of unmanaged hormones.

As an avid Timothee Chalamet fan, I read this book because of the upcoming film adaptation starring Chalamet as Lee and Taylor Russell as Maren. The film has already been nominated for awards at the Venice Film Festival and Taylor Russell received the award for Best Young Actress, so I have high hopes for its success.

Will seeing Chalamet eat someone alive change my opinion of him? Probably not. But if I have to see him eat another can of beans, I might have to rethink some things.

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