Amelia Lovett is an ordinary young girl in extraordinary circumstances. Or maybe just an extraordinary girl in ordinary circumstances. It's hard to tell.
It's hard to tell anything much when ordinary is midnight raids on your home; ordinary is eight-year-olds collecting rubber bullets as precious keepsakes; ordinary is girls bringing guns to school in case they get bored during rounders. Living on an unremarkable street in a town where violence is desperately, unbearably, absurdly ordinary is so hard that all you can do is laugh - or die.
If Amelia is to leave and survive, it will be a miracle, a miracle no religion in that city is capable of inviting or sanctioning. So the violence spits forever and its hot ash-burns remain the one sore truth around which a life can be built or scorched to cinders. "Who would have thought being ordinary would cost a person so much?"
'No Bones' is as shattering and as hilarious a debut as any to have come out of Ireland in years. It announces Anna Burns as a dangerously, potently gifted writer, and leaves its reader open-mouthed at the sight of Amelia's pageant of spasms, sinners and souls passing by.