Bones & All: A Novel

Bones & All: A Novel

by Camille DeAngelis

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2015 Alex Award Recipient!

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.

Camille DeAngelis' Bones&All is an astonishingly original coming-of-age tale that is at once a gorgeously written horror story as well as a mesmerizing meditation on female power and sexuality.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781466846777
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/10/2015
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
File size: 765 KB
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Camille DeAngelis is the author of the novels Mary Modern and Petty Magic and a first-edition guidebook, Moon Ireland. A graduate of NYU and the National University of Ireland, Galway, Camille currently lives in Boston. She is a vegan.

Read an Excerpt

Bones & All

A Novel

By Camille DeAngelis

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2015 Camille DeAngelis
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-4677-7

Penny Wilson wanted a baby of her own in the worst way. That’s what I figure, because she was only supposed to watch me for an hour and a half, and obviously she loved me a little too much. She must have hummed a lullaby, fondled each tiny finger and toe, kissed my cheeks and stroked the down on my head, blowing on my hair like she was making a wish on a dandelion gone to seed. I had my teeth but I was too small to swallow the bones, so when my mother came home she found them in a pile on the living room carpet.

The last time my mother had looked at Penny Wilson she’d still had a face. I know Mama screamed, because anyone would have. When I was older she told me she thought my babysitter had been the victim of a satanic cult. She’d stumbled upon stranger things in suburbia.

It wasn’t a cult. If it had been they would have snatched me away and done unspeakable things to me. There I was, asleep on the floor beside the bone pile, tears still drying on my cheeks and blood wet around my mouth. I loathed myself even then. I don’t remember any of this, but I know it.

Even when my mother noticed the gore down the front of my OshKosh overalls, even when she registered the blood on my face, she didn’t see it. When she parted my lips and put her forefinger inside— mothers are the bravest creatures, and mine is the bravest of all— she found something hard between my gums. She pulled it out and peered at it. It was the hammer of Penny Wilson’s ear drum.

Penny Wilson had lived in our apartment complex, across the courtyard. She’d lived alone and worked oddjobs, so no one would miss her for days. That was the first time we had to pick up and move in a hurry, and I often wonder if my mother had an inkling then how efficient she’d become. The last time we moved she packed us up in twelve minutes flat.

Not so long ago I asked her about Penny Wilson: What did she look like? Where was she from? How old was she? Did she read a lot of books? Was she nice? We were in the car, but not on the way to a new city. We never talked about what I’d done right after I’d done it.

“What do you want to know all this for, Maren?” she sighed, rubbing at her eyes with her thumb and forefinger.

“I just do.”

“She was blond. Long blond hair, and she always wore it loose. She was still young—younger than I was but I don’t think she had many friends. She was very quiet.”

Then Mama’s voice snagged on a memory she hadn’t wanted to find. “I remember how her face lit up when I asked if she could watch you that day.” She looked angry as she brushed the tears away with the back of her hand.

“See? There’s no point thinking about these things when there’s nothing you can do to change any of it. What’s done is done.”

I thought for a minute. “Mama?”


“What did you do with the bones?”

She took so long to reply that I began to be afraid of the answer. There was, after all, a suitcase that always came with us that I had never seen her open. Finally she said, “There are some things I’m never going to tell you no matter how many times you ask.”

My mother was kind to me. She never said things like what you did or what you are.


Mama was gone. She’d gotten up while it was still dark, packed a few things, and left in the car. Mama didn’t love me anymore. How could I blame her if she never did?

Some mornings, once we’d been in a place long enough that we could begin to forget, she’d wake me up with thatsong from Singin’ in the Rain.

Good morning, good moooooooorning! We’ve talked
the whole night through . . .

Except she always sounded kind of sad as she sang it. On May 30th, the day I turned sixteen, my mother came in singing. It was a Saturday, and we had planned a full day of fun. I hugged my pillow and asked, “Why do you always sing it like that?”

She flung the curtains wide open. I watched her close her eyes and smile against the sunshine. “Like what?”

“Like you would’ve rather gone to bed at a reasonable hour.”

She laughed, plopped herself down at the foot of my bed, and rubbed my knee through the duvet. “Happy Birthday, Maren.” I hadn’t seen her that happy in a long time.

Over chocolate-chip pancakes I dipped my hand into a gift bag with one big book inside—The Lord of the Rings, three volumes in one—and a Barnes & Noble gift card. We spent most of the day at the bookstore. That night she took me out to an Italian restaurant, a real Italian restaurant, where the waiters and the chef all spoke to each other in the mother tongue, the walls were covered in old black- and-white family photographs, and the minestrone would keep you full for days.

It was dark in there, and I bet I’ll always remember how the light from the red glass votive holder flickered on Mama’s face as she raised the soupspoon to her lips. We talked about how things were going at school, how things were going at work. We talked about my going to college: what I might like to study, what I might like to be. A soft square of tiramisu arrived with a candle stuck in it, and all the waiters sang to me, but in Italian: Buon compleanno a te.

Afterward she took me to see Titanic at the last-chance cinema, and for three hours I lost myself in the story the way I could in my favorite books. I was beautiful and brave, someone destined to love and to survive, to be happy and to remember. Real life held none of those things for me, but in the pleasant darkness of that shabby old theater I forgot it never would.

I tumbled into bed, exhausted and content, because in the morning I could feast on my leftovers and read my new book. But when I woke up the apartment was too still, and I couldn’t smell the coffee. Something waswrong.

I came down the hall and found a note on the kitchen table: I’m your mother and I love you but I can’t do this anymore.

She couldn’t be gone. She couldn’t be. How couldshe?

I looked at my hands, palms up, palms down, like they didn’t belong to me. Nothing else did: not the chair I sank into, not the table I laid my forehead on, not the window I stared through. Not even my own mother.

I didn’t understand. I hadn’t done the bad thing in more than six months. Mama was all settled into her
new job and we liked this apartment. None of this made sense.

I ran into her bedroom and found the sheets and comforter still on the bed. She’d left other things too. On the nightstand, paperback novels she’d already read. In the bathroom, almost-empty bottles of shampoo and hand lotion. A few blouses, the not-as-pretty ones, were still hanging in the closet on those cheap wire hangers you get at the dry cleaners. We left stuff like this whenever we moved, but this time I was one of the things she’d left behind.

Trembling, I went back into the kitchen and read the note again. I don’t know if you can read between the lines when there’s only one sentence, but I could read all the things she hadn’t said clearly enough:

I can’t protect you anymore, Maren. Not when it’s the rest of the world I should be protecting instead. If you only knew how many times I thought about turning you in, having you locked up so you could never do it again . . .

If you only knew how I hate myself for bringing youinto the world . . .

I did know. And I should have known when she took me out for my birthday, because it was too special not to have been the last thing we’d do together. That was how she’d planned it.

I’d only ever been a burden to her. A burden and a horror. All this time she’d done what she’d done because she was afraid of me.

I felt strange. There was a ringing in my ears like you get when it’s too quiet, except it was like resting my head against a church bell that had just chimed.

Then I noticed something else on the table: a thick white envelope. I didn’t have to open it to know there was money inside. My stomach turned over. I got up and stumbled out of the kitchen.

I went to her bed, burrowed under the comforter, and curled up as tight as I could. I didn’t know what else to do. I wanted to sleep this off, to wake up and find it undone, but you know how it is when you desperately want to get back to sleep. When you desperately want anything.

The rest of the day passed in a daze. I never cracked The Lord of the Rings. I didn’t read a thing besides the words on that note. Later on I got up again and wandered around the house, too sick even to think of eating anything, and when it got dark, I went to bed and lay awake for hours. I didn’t want to be alive. What kind of life could I have?

I couldn’t sleep in an empty apartment. I couldn’t cry either, because she hadn’t left me anything to cry over. If she loved it, she took it with her.


Excerpted from Bones & All by Camille DeAngelis. Copyright © 2015 Camille DeAngelis. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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