National Book Award, Fiction, 2011
Best-selling author Jesmyn Ward won the National Book Award for this poignant and poetic novel. Unfolding over 12 days, the story follows a poor family living on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. With Hurricane Katrina bearing down on them, the Batistes struggle to maintain their community and familial bonds amid the storm and the stark poverty surrounding them.
©2011 Jesmyn Ward (P)2011 Recorded Books, LLC
“Masterful....Salvage the Bones has the aura of a classic about it.” (Washington Post)
"Ward’s writing is startling in its graphic clarity.… [This] author has an unusual gift." (Boston Globe)
"The novel’s hugeness of heart and fierceness of family grip and hold on like Skeetah’s pit bull." (O: the Oprah Magazine)
SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!
This is a story told through the voice of 14 year old Esch, a young motherless girl living in a family of men. And it's a good one.
Living in poverty, a life with few, if any, options and with little hope, she struggles to find tenderness in a world where there's pretty much no room for it. She gives herself, in the name of love, desperate for love in return, but to the wrong person, someone who doesn't see her as a person. No love there.
Indeed, this is a brutal book. The only real tenderness and love given without question goes from Esch's brother, Skeetah, to his dog China, a fighting pit bull. And what she does because she loves him is graphically, realistically written in great detail. It's not for the squeamish. But this is part of the culture in Mississippi and thereabouts (when I did animal rescue in New Orleans after Katrina, I swear. I've never seen so many pit bulls in my life!), and people do what they need, or think they need, to do.
There are so many poor choices, so many circumstances that go fatally awry that it's hard to read this book and keep a stiff upper lip. Things are bad as they are; do they have to get worse? But it is such a good story, layered well, with intense and full character development. Esch is fleshed out, her character added to by her ability to draw parallels between mythology, something she's reading for school, and the circumstances of her own life. It works very, very well.
The only problem with the writing and the narration I had was that both try too hard. Cherise Boothe really captures the voices and tone of the story, but she has a tendency of reading so slowly that I just felt that: Really, I can see that this is important/well done/ beautiful, I don't need such ponderous reading, such pregnant pauses. Also, Jesmyn Ward writes a whole lot of similes. Everything is like this, like that, as this, etc. The only thing that makes this okay and not irritating beyond belief is that what she likens things to wind up being really thought-provoking, really one of a kind images.
The end, the aftermath of Katrina, things come together, revelations are made, there are reactions, possible choices. And, though there is personal and environmental devastation, there is, oddly enough, hope. After such brutality throughout the book, you wonder how things can end up so. But really, you look back and find that there were golden threads of beauty all the way through, shining and beckoning to the reader.
I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
Life can be so unfair to the people who have the least. I know this and yet when I listened to the book, it once again became abundantly clear.
It's always interesting to read about an important event from the perspective of a character. It adds a depth of understanding that isn't possible any other way. But, this book is brutal. It's so depressing, so tough. Parts of it were simply too much for me.
The writing is flawless. The subject matter is, like I said, brutal. Don't expect to be uplifted or carried away into fiction oblivion. Expect instead to get a dose of gritty, real life.
I'm a recovering librarian. Since I had a stroke in 2002 I have found reading print difficult. I am so grateful for audiobooks.
Brutal and savage story told almost entirely in the present tense. I found it both repelling and compelling. In my opinion it had little to do with Katrina (the hurricane) and more to do about surviving in a savage land. Most of the descriptive writing is eloquent, but at times it could have used better editing. Now I'm looking for something that does not use the word detritus once.
MY BOOK CLUB CHOSE THIS BOOK FOR OUR APRIL PICK....I THOUGHT THE BOOK WAS ABOUT HURRICANE KATRINA. IT WAS A RAW TALE OF 'HURRICANE' OF LIFE AND SURVIVAL PRE- KATRINA. IT WAS VERY DIFFICULT TO LISTEN TO THE DOG FIGHTING AND DECISIONS PEOPLE MAKE TO SURVIVE. MY HEART WENT OUT TO ESH WITHOUT A MOTHER & SURROUNDED BY MEN. DEFINITELY NOT A PLEASURE TO HEAR I DID LIKE THE NARRATION....MADE IT EASIER. THE STORY IS A HARD TRUTH OF LIFE THAT I AM NOT FAMILIAR.
I would listen to it again because it was so well written and a beautiful story.
The characters including the dog.
The right voice for the right book.
I thought it was profound.
Cherise Booth is an outstanding narrator and injects warmth and humanity in the main characters. It's easy to see why this book won the National Book Award.
I didn't like the theme of dog fighting that runs through this book but I understand how that is a real part of life in southern Mississippi.
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