Monday, November 26, 2012

The Color of Bones by Tracy Edward Wymer

Welcome to Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday, an event sponsored by SW Messenger. Today I have, The Color of Bones, by Tracy Edward Wymer to review.

The Story-
 Derby lives on the Northside of town. He has never set foot on the Southside because of “the line”. It is an actual living, breathing line that separates the town and kills anyone who steps over it. It appeared a generation ago, and no one knows anything about it. To Derby, it is just a way of life. On his way home from school one day, he is shocked to find a pile of bones with a skull on top stacked exactly on the center of the line. Who put it there and how?

He begins studying the line, testing it. He dares to do what nobody else has ever done, tempt it.

One day he sees a girl standing on the Southside, watching his exertions.  His interest in her grows and soon she is all he thinks about. When Derby’s father finds out, he decides that the two sides of town should be even more separate, and he begins building a wall so that people won’t even be able to look at each other.

Derby becomes desperate, and soon he begins to think of attempting the impossible.

My Thoughts- 
A really strange, but intriguing story. At first I didn’t know what to think. Life seems so normal, but for the line. What is the line? We never actually find out, but we do learn a lot about it as Derby studies it. First off, it is alive. Second, it can hear, understand and react to the people around it.

The mystery of the line is really what kept me reading. There is a subplot about an accidental murder, but I just wanted to learn more about this intriguing line. As Derby’s interest grows, I wondered why he would risk so much for so little. But of course, the moral of the story is that he dares to do and love.

The character of Derby puzzled me. At first I thought Derby was a girl. It doesn’t refer to him in any type of gender situation, so I just assumed girl. But, when the character starts falling for the girl from Southside, I began to question my decision. I finally concluded that Derby was a boy. I also didn’t catch his age at the beginning, and it wasn’t until he went to middle school that I realized his approximate age. From a reader’s standpoint, this type of puzzle is risky. It plays with everything you think you know about a character and the book reads differently.

There is a great, and the morale of the story is… at the end of the book. However, I really wanted to know what the heck the line was and how it was created. A question left hanging in the end.

So, is it worth a read? Yes. The author does a good job tying together individual story
lines that add up to an interesting full story. And there is always the mystery of the line.


  1. Hmm, this sounds interesting but not sure I want to read a book where you can't tell if the main character is a boy or girl from the beginning. Thanks for sharing about it.

  2. Interesting concept. It makes us realize how much we depend on gender labeling as well. Sounds like there may be a lot of social commentary. Now I want to know what the line is too.

  3. I have never heard of this book- but it does sound interesting. I want to know more about the line. What a unique book!

  4. I assumed Derby was a boy from the get go (not sure why, but it was never a question to me). Great review! I enjoyed the book. Unique story.

  5. Thanks Kelly. Funny how names work. I've had to deal with that in my own writing and make sure I add some sort of possessive right at the beginning so readers know. As an author we just assume everyone can see the pictures in our heads lol.