A modern literary classic, now available in a 20th anniversary edition with a new afterword by the author.
The publication of Dorothy Allison's Bastard Out of Carolina was a landmark event. The novel's profound portrait of family dynamics in the rural South won the author a National Book Award nomination and launched her into the literary spotlight. Critics have likened Allison to William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor, and Harper Lee, naming her the first writer of her generation to dramatize the lives and language of poor whites in the South. Since its appearance, the novel has inspired an award-winning film and has been banned from libraries and classrooms, championed by fans, and defended by critics.
Greenville County, South Carolina, is a wild, lush place that is home to the Boatwright family - a tight-knit clan of rough-hewn, hard- drinking men who shoot up each other's trucks, and indomitable women who get married young and age too quickly. At the heart of this story is Ruth Anne Boatwright, known simply as Bone, a bastard child who observes the world around her with a mercilessly keen perspective. When her stepfather, Daddy Glen, "cold as death, mean as a snake", becomes increasingly more vicious toward her, Bone finds herself caught in a family triangle that tests the loyalty of her mother, Anney - and leads to a final, harrowing encounter from which there can be no turning back.
©1992 Dorothy Allison (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
Well written book but I could not finish. The first time I heard a child's sexual molestation by a step parent graphically described I had to quit the book. That is just me, and has nothing to do with the quality of writing.or, narration. I am certain it happens all the time but I tend to be an ostrich and do not need to hear it. The incident was part of the story and not written in for shock value.
Before you buy, be aware this is at least a part of the story and if squeamish, do not purchase.
I read this book without knowing much about the story. The narrator was amazing. While it was only one narrator, it felt like more. I rank this performance alongside The Help & Matterhorn. Fantastic. It made the story. I don't think I would have been as enthralled with this story if I were reading it. The afterword with this 20th anniversary edition made me feel like there was closure. The last 10 minutes or so were added to the book with the author's thoughts on her book being banned. I would love to be able to write as concisely and eloquently as she did, but I won't even try.
This book is violent. It has candid references to sex and sexual slang. The characters have flaws. This is a fantastically crafted story that will make you uncomfortable...but the discomfort will make you hurt that much more for the main character.
A piece of literature whose subject matter is extremely difficult. The topic of family abuse should not be avoided as it appears some jurisdictions have dictated. (This reminds the reader of when so many politicians said "we don't have gang problems). Society will gain nothing and lose a lot if it chooses to continue shoving the 'dirty secrets' under the carpet. The 'heroine' of this book is an extremely well-drawn character whose victimization is all too familiar to those who have been victimized and those who try to help them. This should be a "MUST READ" for families, physicians, law enforcement, teachers and all those who work with children. Those who consider the subject matter 'unfit' should read the headlines for a week and forget the attitude that it could not happen in their family - like cancer, it can happen anywhere.
I am a miracle worker. Doing what I can to choose love over fear.
The storyline slowly takes you in, mixed with one of the best narratorsbof allntime. It might be painful to listen to sometimes, but so is life! By silencing pain it growscdarker. This box does in my opinion serve as a semi-fictional voice for victims of domestic abuse. We owe it to them to feel on suffering which they have endured.
The setting, got me thinking of "The help" You have the south with racism. The hate-crimes in this book are not based on hue, but gender and age. There is rasistic-references in here too but not like in"The help".
I don't know topic-wise: A violent lolita or sold.
She gives life to the characters in a way that leaves you heartbroken
"The man who ruined a twelwe-year old"
The last two hours gave mi nightmares. It is worth it but be aware it is chillingly-detailed.
Hello! I am someone that loves to read. I love a story with strong, intelligent characters that have a strong will to fight and survive.
Bastards out of Carolina is one of my favourite stories. It is a story written from the point of view of Bone, a young girl growing up in South Carolina. It is a story of over coming obstacles and learning who to trust. It is very well written with a great cast of characters that are introduced as Bone interacts and finds strength in family. It is a must read!
Ordinarily, I dislike reviewers who don't finish the book but feel O.K. about writing reviews. This time, I have to make an exception in the hopes of sparing others. I simply could not finish this book. The graphic descriptions of the sexual molestation of a small child, the physical abuse, the deeply disturbing recounting of the child's masturbation were all too horrifying. The narration was fine, but the story itself left me feeling sick to my stomach. I did not get the sense of this book from the publisher's summary or the sample, and I think I am much too squeamish (hopefully read human) to get through this feeling even a little O.K. Maybe it gets better later, and the girl grows up to overcome her childhood trauma and there's some kind of good and positive ending that would make this less monsterous, but I couldn't get there to find it over the overwhelming awful of the first half.
Counselor with eclectic taste, I enjoy all types of fiction, dark, strange and twisted things, humor and explicitly.
The gritty truth of the story and the unwavering bond within a family
Yes, It is a compelling and raw story that is disturbing, yet so very real and more common than society would like to think.The author takes a brutally courageous approach to the subject matter and openly shows how the characters are impacted by their situations.
I have not, but would consider doing so; she has great tone and is a very good narrator based on this experience.
“Everything that comes to us is a blessing or a test. That’s all you need to know in this life.”
This book is raw, the physical and sexual abuse and how this forms the child's psyche is disturbing but oh so real. Some reviewers seemed to feel that there was too much focus on the sexual abuse and masturbation, I have to completely disagree; it is a part of the story but by far not at all the whole story, so please don't let the negative reviews deter you. This is a hauntingly good read.
This is my granddaughter's picture! She is my love.
I saw the movie years ago and never forgot the darkness and sadness. This story has enough differences that even though you have seen the movie, you won't recognize it. In the book, Ruth Ann is strong and you know she will be okay. Her situation will make you cry and it will break your heart. In the movie, I don't remember her as being strong. I remember wondering what would happen to this poor girl if she survived her situation. As with most books; this one is also better than the movie.
Say something about yourself!
I almost stop buying this book because of the awful reviews from people who could not stand the novel because the detailed description of the rape. It is sad that they miss this wonderful story because of that. It is just not fair. Life is life, with beauty and ugliness, with good and bad, even if we avoid reading about it, it is just is. I rather read this novel, with the rape and everything than lose my time reading “The fifty shades of grey”, that is only garbage.
Additionally, the reader is amazing. Is one of the best one I recommend this book specially to mothers who prefer to close the eyes instead of standing up.
By the way, regarding the last chapter, the writer does not need to apologize for anything.
I wanted to read this book because I wanted to learn something. The power of literature over all other forms of art is that it places you directly inside the minds and worlds of other people and you are an active participant. This is why books are still held in the highest regard concerning an education. And that's why I like to read because I want to know about something that it would otherwise be impossible for me to know anything about.
And that's why I was so let down by this book.
Of course I first need to ask myself why I even felt it important to read a novel about a child abuse victim growing up in South Carolina in the 1950's and 60's. As a male who grew up in Massachusetts in the 1970's and 80's, who had no extended family, not siblings, and was not a victim of any physical abuse, I couldn't be much further from this subject matter if I tried. And that's something I knew I needed to keep in mind while reading this novel because I knew I was going to come across situations and emotions that I've never had and that are unique to people who have been abused like Bone has. I was also conscious of the gender divide and though things like that shouldn't have to matter in this day and age, it would be foolish for anyone to assume men and women see the world the same way.
Needless to say I felt prepared and since I'm also a very careful reader who doesn't rush through a book and spends almost as much time thinking about what I've read as I do actually reading it, well, I felt up to the challenge to tackle some horribly dark and mostly foreign subject matter.
The book gets off to a great start too. The characters, in their formative infancy on the page, are lively, rowdy, prideful, and interesting. Anney especially shined as someone who I was excited to get to know through the course of the book. There was a good texture to the way of life of a poor, white southern family, a group of near criminal outcasts whose last name, the Boatwrights, seemed to be a clever way to turn the phrase 'capsize' (as in a boat the isn't up right has capsized) right-side up and hint that this was a ship slowly sinking.
I continued to feel like I was in good hands when Allison describes the first instance of abuse. The scene happens so abruptly, so shockingly right there in the parking lot in the front seat of the car, and danger had been alluded to quite artfully with the images of Glen's big, strong, fast, hands that I actually felt the confusion Bone would have felt. This is a remarkable scene and I'll never forget it - it's one of the best things I've ever read.
And to see Allison completely waste this opportunity to tell a better story, to waste these characters on melodrama, on cliche, on pat standards, well ... it makes me mad because it cheapens the horrible abuse Allison experienced herself in real life.
Now I didn't know hardly anything about Allison when reading the novel, but I did know that she is an abuse survivor and that this book grew from her own experiences. I didn't know anything beyond that, however, and so I read the book without that influencing me. I only carried on trusting the author to know what she was talking about and that she would have some insight onto the subject matter. To say I felt sort of betrayed when the book was over, especially after reading that disaster of an afterword, would almost be an understatement.
Here are the major problems with this book:
The wrong character is the narrator. Bone is at times a fascinating character and what happens to her is central to the plot, but told from her point of view just doesn't work. First of all it doesn't work because I never felt like I was really getting the point of view of a little girl - rather I felt like I was getting what an adult writer wanted a little girl to notice and to say and to do. One moment Bone is luxuriating in the warm smells of her mother's odor (a perfectly valid thing for a child to remember), but the next she's wise beyond her years and seems to understand far more about what's going on around her than I could believe. Not to say I think kids are dumb, but the things Bone noticed and said seemed to convenient. She didn't feel 'real' or 'genuine'.
And of course Allison actually admits to making Bone not real in her terrible afterword. Allison clearly states the Bone is the character she wishes she had been when she herself lived through the abuse she suffered as a child. The fact that Allsion even admitted this shocked me but didn't surprise me because never did I feel like I was learning anything about the process of this poor girl turning into a terribly angry and hateful young woman because Allsion created a character who never would have become that kind of person.
Allsion says she didn't want to write a biography, and that's fine, but what she wanted to was to teach people about this cycle of abuse and to strip away the prejudices of the south and of abuse victims and to use art to help people. But how can she do any good if she takes her own experiences, throws them all right out the window and creates characters the exact opposite of what she knows anything about?
It's one thing to invent a new character that doesn't resemble yourself, but it's another to try reach people who have been through the same things you have by giving them a person they wish they are but aren't. It's not going to help anyone - its like creating a comic book superhero - fantasy is all that is serving.
There are deeper problems, however.
The emotions are not earned. We have a lot of jigsaw pieces of ragged emotion - Bone is hateful, Bone is angry, Bone loves her momma, then hates her momma. But that's all we get. We get told what Bone is feeling but there is nothing connecting what she feels with the outside world. We get told Bone hates everyone, and then in the next scene she's at her Aunt's house playing records into the night. Now I'm willing to accept a healthy dose of adolescent angst and emotional volatility and irrationality, but I'm not buying that here. Allison did not bridge the divide between what makes Bone feel the things she feels with how she does feel. All we get is 'Bone is mad' because 'Bone was abused'.
Oh, I know that sounds bad too, and I understand that unfortunately the abuse a person goes through can mark them and define them in their own minds, but it doesn't work in a work of fiction - a work of fiction Allison wanted to create because she didn't want to write a biography.
In fact I'll go as far to say that I don't think Allison actually knows what she feels about her own real-life experiences because she also says that when asked by reporters how she feels when a school bans her book from the high school curriculum, she says that instead of telling the reporter she's upset to hear that, she instead takes a deep breath and says 'well, it's understandable.'
Ms. Allison, maybe you don't understand how fiction works, so let me remind you that when you take that deep breath and force yourself to force down your real feelings, you are cheating the reader because the reader only cares about what you really feel and really think - not what we think society and good adult company expects to say and how to behave.
In short, I mistrust Allison a lot and it's why I feel the whole book is disingenuous.
And what a wasted opportunity too. She has all the pieces here for a great book - a book that could rival 'The Color Purple' in stature - she has some really good characters like Anney and Earl and she has a difficult but very good ending with the decision Anney makes. This book could have been great.
I would have written this in the third person and I would have spent a lot more time getting to know Anney because the only way to make the ending work is to know Anney, to know her indecision, her fears, and her strengths. But we only see Anney through Bone.
Had this book not been about so tragic and important of a subject as this sort of abuse I wouldn't be so disappointed in the outcome, but Allison has done a disservice to more than just people who have been abused and are left reading about a character wholly unlike themselves in empathy - the book does a disservice to someone who wants to understand better, someone like me who is so far removed from the subject matter, from the culture, from almost everything Allison knows intuitively but swallows down out of sight because she hasn't come to terms with or has thought through what this book is really about and what it's power could have been.
Allison cheats us. The book is dishonest, melodramatic, and far from insightful. It's a damn shame.
"This is a great book"
This book did all the things book should do. It told me about group of people I knew nothing about, it made me feel compassion and anger. I could not stop listening. The narrator is wonderful.
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