Rule of the Bone, written by Russell Banks, is about a fourteen year old boy named Chappie, who struggles throughout the entire novel to find what he is looking for in life. In some ways, it seems like he wants a life with normal, reliable adults. At other times, it appears that he is just looking for a father figure. In the first few chapters of the book, Chappie seems like your average, rebellious teenager, looking for ways to gain attention by cutting his hair and getting piercings. Both his mother and stepfather were alcoholics and ignored him for the most part, and as an escape Chappie started using drugs and steals his mother’s collection of valuable coins in order to pay for them. His mother becomes infuriated, and Chappie leaves and begins his search to find what he wants out of life.
After Chappie leaves his mothers home, he moves in with his close friend Ross and the bikers. He continues to turns to drugs to forget about his past problems as well as his current setbacks. We find out later that Chappies stepfather was abusive in many different ways. Perhaps he saw no other way to deal with the abuse then to leave his mother and stepfathers home, because he left willingly. Chappie may see the bikers and Ross as a type of family, because they are all living together in the small apartment. Chappie continues to get into trouble, and has a problem with the police. Chappie steals from Victorias Secret and gets caught, and both his mother and stepfather go to the mall. Chappie is offered a chance to go back to live with his parents, but decides otherwise and remains living with Ross and the bikers. At the time, going back to live with his mother and stepfather appears to be a good idea, but the relationship he is currently having with them is not healthy and it will not provide him with the childhood that he’s looking for.
After living with the bikers and Ross for a few months or so, the apartment catches on fire and Ross and Chappie are forced to leave. Not long after they leave their apartment, Chappie and Ross get new tattoos and choose new names for themselves. Chappie gets crossbones on his forearm and he obtained the nickname Bone. In order to get to the place they want to spend the night, they steal a car and drive where they plan on staying. Even though Bone willingly got into the car, Russ was actually the one that stole it because Bone has not yet drifted into the full criminal mentality. Bone and Russ travel to a school bus that is in the middle of a field, where they meet two former college students. It is not long before they leave and go to the summerhouse to stay for a couple of months until they find another place to live.
When Ross decides to leave the summer house, Bone is on his own. He has no family and no friends, so instead of staying at the house, he leaves and begins to walk. He is picked up by Buster and Froggy, who he has met before at the mall. Buster claims that he manages a band and needs to pay them money. When they go to pay the money, Bone notices that the bikers are there too, so after Buster and the band fight, Bone takes Froggy and the leave and go back to the bus.
Froggy and Bone make their way back to the bus where they first meet I-Man. Bone spends a lot of time with Froggy and I-Man and now they become a type of family. Bone looks up to I-Man and learns from him, however, when they send Froggy home to his mother; Bone decides that he wants to go home as well.
When Bone returns home, he finds the house and his stepfather a mess. His stepfather has been drinking and attempts to harass Bone, so he immediately leaves to go be with his mother. When Bone sees his mother, she is excited and happy to see him. But when confronted with the choice of being with the stepfather or Bone, she chooses the stepfather. Bone was willing to live with his mother as long as his stepfather left, but his mother did not want that. At this point, Bone just wants a normal childhood with a normal family, yet he never explains to her how his stepfather was harassing him. Bone decides to go back to the bus, but first he visits his grandmother to say goodbye. His grandmother tells him many things that he never knew about his father, including where he lives.
When Bone returns to the bus, I-Man is still living there. I-Man turns into a type of father figure for Bone, and they both decide to go to Jamaica. In Jamaica, Bone is opened to a completely different culture.
Rule of the Bone-Russel Banks