Summary: The Farming of Bones begins in 1937 in a village on the Dominican side of the river that separates the country from Haiti. Amabelle Desir, Haitian-born and a faithful maidservant to the Dominican family that took her in when she was orphaned, and her lover Sebastien, an itinerant sugarcane cutter, decide they will marry and return to Haiti at the end of the cane season. However, hostilities toward Haitian laborers find a vitriolic spokesman in the ultra-nationalist Generalissimo Trujillo who calls for an ethnic cleansing of his Spanish-speaking country. As rumors of Haitian persecution become fact, as anxiety turns to terror, Amabelle and Sebastien’s dreams are leveled to the most basic human desire: to endure. Based on a little-known historical event, this extraordinarily moving novel memorializes the forgotten victims of nationalist madness and the deeply felt passion and grief of its survivors.
I was kind of confused what this book was about because I started reading it without even looking at the summary. I had to read this for a class, so I just forgot to look at what it was about. About 100 pages in I did and I was like “oh, that’s why this is sad”. For the most part, I didn’t really get why people were looking down on the Haitians, but why does anybody hate period?
Amabelle is an interesting narrator. I enjoyed being in her head a lot and her dreams were quite interesting. Her dreams are usually told in a different chapter with bolded font. Amabelle is mainly an optimistic and hopeful person, despite seeing her parents drown. She is a very caring person and it was easy to like her.
At first, the plot was quite slow. We just watch everyday life for Amabelle as a maidservant and see her interact with the sugarcane workers, especially Sebastien. I liked Sebastien, he seemed pretty nice, but he wasn’t as naïve as Amabelle. He took the rumors of Dominicans killing Haitians seriously the very first time he heard. Amabelle lives a semi-sheltered life with Senora Valencia and Papi. She is treated kindly by both them and her working conditions are decent.
Overall, I enjoyed this and I think I learned a lot about Haiti and the Dominican Republic that I didn’t know before. I’ve always enjoyed Historical Fiction and this was no exception. I was slightly bored and restless when I read this hence the average rating. I would recommend this to people who enjoy Historical Fiction.