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Salvage the Bones: A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

Salvage the Bones: A Novel (original 2011; edition 2012)

by Jesmyn Ward

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Title:Salvage the Bones: A Novel
Authors:Jesmyn Ward
Info:Bloomsbury USA (2012), Edition: 1, Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library

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Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward (2011)

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This book was brutally honest, raw and emotional. Ward expertly created an atmosphere wherein I felt like I was literally in the backwoods of Mississippi with these characters. The characters were well drawn and three-dimensional from the start and although their circumstances were desperate, Ward created a story that did not elicit pity so much as empathy. This is not a trite, re-tread of the coming of age novel but is an elbow deep exploration into the lives of these characters over a twelve day period leading up to and after Hurricane Katrina. It is original and in many ways defies categorization but was a profound, moving read. ( )
  Maureen_McCombs | Aug 19, 2016 |
Exceptionally well written! Instead of an author merely telling a story, this one uses prose as fabric...weaving and binding and building,..each word essential with nothing left to spare. A perfect study of the craft of story making! ( )
  pprocko115 | May 19, 2016 |
I can see why this book won the National Book Award, you could feel the depths of the poverty and the wrath of the storm. Although the Hurricane is only two chapters you could sense a storm brewing up to the point of the actual hurricane. The dog fight scenes are horrific and hard to understand how any honor can be found in this activity is beyond me and it is clear that it is done illegally. The storm is not the only force of destruction in this story but it is the force that allows for a chance of new beginnings. ( )
  yvonne.sevignykaiser | Apr 2, 2016 |
For many of us who did not have the misfortune to live through Hurricane Katrina on a first-hand basis, the most indelible images of that disaster are of the havoc and heartbreak wrought on the city of New Orleans. In Salvage the Bones, however, author Jesmyn Ward reminds us that the scope of the tragedy was considerably wider. Set along the Mississippi gulf coast in the twelve days leading up to when Katrina made landfall, the novel relates the heart-wrenching plight of the Batiste clan, a dirt-poor African American family whose matriarch has died leaving the four children to mostly fend for themselves despite the presence of their still-grieving father.

As told in the first-person by Esch, fifteen years old and the only daughter, the story revolves around the preparations the family is forced to make while still trying to sort out the tribulations of their everyday lives. Their journey is rocky and grim, to say the least. Along the way, the reader is confronted with such dark realities as alcoholism, teen pregnancy, petty theft and vandalism, drug use, dog fighting for sport, physical disfigurement, death in child birth, and personal betrayal. And all of that happens before the storm even hits!

Salvage the Bones is highly atmospheric and contains some of the strongest images and most powerful writing that I have come across in quite some time. Ward has done a wonderful job of developing her protagonists—particularly the four Batiste children—into fully realized characters. Also, the main themes she explores—the tyranny of unrelenting poverty, the poignancy of unrequited love, loyalty to family and friends, the power of nature, dismissive attitudes toward women—felt real and were all deeply affecting. On the other hand, the novel seemed to be a little overwritten at times; Esch’s preoccupation with the Greek myth of Medea and Jason was both repetitive and a bit of a false note. Still, that is a small complaint and hardly one that detracts from what was ultimately a satisfying reading experience. ( )
  browner56 | Mar 10, 2016 |
Bloody hell. This is a tough, tough book to read - a poor black family in rural Louisiana somewhere scraping lives together in the shadow of the looming Hurricane Katrina. The writing is stunning - building dread and sadness throughout, bringing out the tough bonds forged between siblings and completely occupying the voice of Eche, the 14 year old narrator. Like the storm itself, Salvage the Bones builds and builds, slowly upping the tension, before exploding into a finale as ragged, breathless and overwhelming as the hurricane. ( )
  mjlivi | Feb 2, 2016 |
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See now that I, even I am he, and there is no god with me; I kill and I make alive, I wound and I heal, neither is there any can deliver out of my hand. -Deuteronomy 32:39

For though I'm small, I know many things, and my body is an endless eye through which, unfortunately, I see everything. -Gloria Fuertes, "Now"

We on our backs staring at the stars about, talking about what we going to be when we grow up, I said what you wanna be? She said, "Alive." -Outkast, "Da Art of Storytellin' (Part 1)," Aquemini
For my brother, Joshua Adam Dedeaux,

who leads while I follow.
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China's turned on herself.
"To give life...is to know what's worth fighting for. And what's love."
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Book description
A hurricane is building over the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the coastal town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, and Esch's father is growing concerned. A hard drinker, largely absent, he doesn't show concern for much else. Esch and her three brothers are stocking food, but there isn't much to save. Lately, Esch can't keep down what food she gets; she's fourteen and pregnant. Her brother Skeetah is sneaking scraps for his prized pitbull's new litter, dying one by one in the dirt. Meanwhile, brothers Randall and Junior try to stake their claim in a family long on child's play and short on parenting.

As the twelve days that make up the novel's framework yield to their dramatic conclusion, this unforgettable family—motherless children sacrificing for one another as they can, protecting and nurturing where love is scarce—pulls itself up to face another day. A big-hearted novel about familial love and community against all odds, and a wrenching look at the lonesome, brutal, and restrictive realities of rural poverty, Salvage the Bones is muscled with poetry, revelatory, and real.
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Enduring a hardscrabble existence as the children of alcoholic and absent parents, four siblings from a coastal Mississippi town prepare their meager stores for the arrival of Hurricane Katrina while struggling with such challenges as a teen pregnancy and a dying litter of prize pups.… (more)

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