I do not like sports. That isn’t to say that I hate them, but I have never been very interested in sports in general. That being said, I could watch ice skaters all day—though I’m not sure if that’s because I enjoy ice skating, or because I’m in awe of what they do. I cannot ice skate.
Anyway, I happened across Angie Abdou through a funny exchange on Twitter–something that may be the purest interaction I have ever had on the platform! Fellow hopeful #CarinaPitch participant and new author Alex Rettie introduced us. To think, had I never commented on his post, I’d have never met my ‘long-lost cousin.’
Thanks to Alex, a new friendship blossomed! And, I have a new cousin! 🙂 Now, whether we are blood-related or not, Angie is a fellow Syrian and a fellow Abdou, so she is my cousin no matter what. Anyway, that night I bought The Bone Cage and put my other book on hold so I could read it immediately. Three days later, I had finished the book and decided that since it is the first book I’ve finished since starting my blog, it would also be the first book I review!
Now, please bear with me here, as this is my first real book review.
The Bone Cage
by Angie Abdou
Book description, borrowed from Goodreads:
Digger, an 85 kilo wrestler, and Sadie, a 26-year-old speed swimmer, stand on the verge of realizing every athlete’s dream–winning a gold medal at the Olympics. Both athletes are nearing the end of their athletic careers, and are forced to confront the question: what happens to athletes when their bodies are too old and injured to compete? The blossoming relationship between Digger and Sadie is tested in the all-important months leading up to the Olympics, as intense training schedules, divided loyalties, and unpredicted obstacles take their draining toll. The Olympics, as both of them are painfully aware, will be the realization or the end of a life’s dream.
The book starts out by throwing you immediately into the story. You have no time to think before the story just starts. Instantly, you’re sucked into Digger’s psyche. The descriptions are amazing, I honestly felt like I was standing right there with Digger.
Digger has always been a good sweater. He’s only just stepped into the sauna and already he can feel the itch of sweat behind his ears, around his hairline, along his spine. It’s a natural talent his teammates envy, especially at a time like this.
The entire book is like this–descriptions that yank you right into the story and make you forget everything going on around you.
This book is not one I would usually buy. As I have mentioned before, I don’t usually read contemporary, and I definitely don’t read about sports. That being said, I am so glad I did buy this one. Every other chapter is dedicated to one character–following Digger first, then Sadie, and back and forth. By the end of chapter 2, I was 100% invested in both characters. Present tense is not something I am a fan of, and this book is entirely written in present tense. However, it really, really works here.
Because of the style, I really felt connected to the characters. I cared about them–and I really got a feeling for their very different personalities. Both characters have very similar goals–they want to go to the Olympics, and they want to succeed. Both are afraid that they are becoming too old for their sports, and that this is their last chance at accomplishing their dreams.
Yes, the pool, always her centre, has lost its hold. What, she wonders, has held the whole thing together this long? I have an intense burning desire to be a champion. That was the phrase she learned at National Youth Team swim camps. I have an intense burning desire to be a champion. They repeated the mantra over and over—a room full of fourteen-year-olds chanting the words in unison. I have an intense burning desire to be a champion.
For a while, both characters follow their own path and they do not interact with one another. By the time they do meet each other, I couldn’t help but feel ridiculously excited. (“Omg he’s talking about Sadie! They’re gonna meet!”)
I loved how they interacted with each other and the people around them. I loved the descriptions of the characters and the little glimpse into each one’s personality and life through the eyes of the two POV characters. What I loved the most about this book, however, was how invested I was in them, especially as someone who really doesn’t have any interest in sportketball of any kind. It was beautifully, masterfully written in a way that could hold anyone’s interest. You don’t need to love sports, or even know anything about them, to love this book. This book is about people. It’s about hope, determination, relationships, and sacrifice.
Angie found the perfect balance between giving the reader a ton of information about each sport (swimming and wrestling) but not making you feel like it was all a big infodump. I was never left wondering why they were doing something or how things worked, but I also never once felt like I was being preached at or sitting in on some kind of lesson about sports.
The big question: would I read more by Angie? Absolutely! I already have plans to buy more of her books once I finish with To Green Angel Tower by Tad Williams. Her books are a refreshing change from what I usually read, and if her characterization and description in her other books are anything like they are in The Bone Cage, I would read every word she has ever written in a heartbeat.
Links to Check out: