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Publisher's Summary

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.

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  • Carolyn
  • Friendsville, PA, United States
  • 12-31-12

Not for the Faint of Heart

Where does Bastard Out of Carolina rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

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.

Any additional comments?

Before you buy, be aware this is at least a part of the story and if squeamish, do not purchase.

30 of 30 people found this review helpful

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  • DL
  • 12-01-12

Brutal, Heartbreaking & Believable

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.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Anne
  • Richmond, British Columbia, Canada
  • 06-09-13

Beautifully Written, Well Narrated -

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.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Hard and harrowing

In the afterword, the author talks about meeting with PTAs and library associations as her book was banned in several places around the country, and feeling terrible because a young teacher lost her job and left teaching after she had her kids read Bastard Out of Carolina.

Dorothy Allison isn't unsympathetic to those parents who want to protect their children from her book. Bastard Out of Carolina is not a feelgood story, it's not about a spunky girl triumphing over adversity, rising above her mean beginnings. It's about a girl stuck helplessly in a world of flawed adults who care about her but not enough, not enough to take care of her the way they should, and seeing her childhood trodden underfoot and crushed (it would be too nice to say she ever really had much "childhood innocence" to lose) while adults look on, trying ineffectually and too late to help.

Ruth Anne Boatwright ("Bone") is born to a single mother who never tells her anything about her father. Refusing to accept "illegitimate" printed on her daughter's birth certificate, Bone's mother is loving and protective of her daughter, but when a new man comes along - "Daddy Glen" - promising to love her and her daughters - Bone's mother marries him, despite warning signs, despite Daddy Glen being a textbook abuser, because Bone's mother can't help falling for the Bad Boy who needs her, who can be healed and made a better man by her love alone.

Of course he can't. And Daddy Glen is as cunning as he is uncontrollable. He never raises a hand to Bone's mother, or any of his other kids. It's Bone, little Bone, who young and sassy and willful, somehow always seems to rub him the wrong way, always the one drawing his ire. And worse, Bone resembles her mother, maybe too much.

The first time her stepfather touches her is while they are waiting in the car while her mother is in the hospital, in labor.

Dorothy Allison said she wanted to write a story about her people - people most commonly referred to as "poor white trash" - told from their own perspective. As she says in the afterword, it isn't just poor people who abuse their children, nor rural people, nor Southerners, but stories about poor white Southerners beating and molesting little girls are almost a cliche. Yet she wrote that story, but she told it from inside Bone's head. Bone isn't exceptional - she's bright and decent, but she warps and twists under the malign influence of her stepfather and the dysfunction of her extended family, which more often than not, when they finally take action on a problem, do so with violence.

Arguably, however (and it's certainly arguable, I'm sure many readers would disagree, and so might the author), Daddy Glen isn't the only villain in this story. Because Bone's mother sees him physically punish her, and she gets angry at him and leaves him... and then goes back. Then Bone is beaten black and blue, and her mother feels terrible and regretful (especially after Bone's aunts and uncles find out what he did to her).... and then she goes back. And then when Daddy Glen loses it completely and crosses the last moral event horizon.... Bone's mother makes the choice that will brand their relationship forever.

The escalations are part of the developing plot, but more subtle is the realization that Bone's mother - a nice lady, a loving mother, a poor young mother in a tough spot, a mother who clearly loves her daughter - is making a choice, and she makes it repeatedly, until finally the reader, like Bone, has to confront the fact that her mother is making it knowingly. All the regret and tears in the world won't change that.

There is nothing cheering or uplifting in this book, yet I wouldn't say it's completely dark. Bone is a tough kid and she'll survive, but her future is unmapped. We don't know how she'll come out of this. It's easy to picture her actually being the grown woman who rises above her abusive childhood and becomes a better mother to her own kids, or maybe she never becomes a mother at all, throwing herself into other endeavors. But it's also easy to picture Bone falling into the same trap her mother did, or worse, becoming that other modern stereotype of poor white trash, turning into a meth addict who chalks up as many abortions as she does boyfriends. Either path is easy to see, and I think the author ended the book perfectly at the point where we can only wonder.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Katie
  • Peterborough, ON, Canada
  • 08-11-13

Amazing story!

Any additional comments?

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!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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A heartbreaking must

What made the experience of listening to Bastard Out of Carolina the most enjoyable?

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".

What other book might you compare Bastard Out of Carolina to and why?

I don't know topic-wise: A violent lolita or sold.

What does Elizabeth Evans bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

She gives life to the characters in a way that leaves you heartbroken

If you could rename Bastard Out of Carolina, what would you call it?

"The man who ruined a twelwe-year old"

Any additional comments?

The last two hours gave mi nightmares. It is worth it but be aware it is chillingly-detailed.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Narration is perfect

Would you listen to Bastard Out of Carolina again? Why?

I will listen to again. It was interesting from beginning to end. The narration was spot on...I couldn't imagine it any other way.

What did you like best about this story?

The entire Boatwright Family was tragic but entertaining as well.

What does Elizabeth Evans bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Elizabeth really brings this story to life. She does a wonderfull job of expressing all the different characters and the emotion of every chapter from beginning to end.

If you could rename Bastard Out of Carolina, what would you call it?

I couldn't rename it. It is perfect. I suppose "A Girl Called Bone".

Any additional comments?

This is a great story. Heartbreaking and seemed so true and devastating at times. The very first time Bone was abused my heart broke into a millions peices for her. I felt all the rage she should have been feeling although she didn't really know what had just happened she was so young. I felt the betrayal she should have been feeling...and as the story progressed I found myself wishing SOMEONE would put two and two together and figure it out and get that little girl out of there. I found myself wondering about the little sister...was she ok? I thought the creep would start on her (or just did) while Bone was in the ER for her broken tail bone and other injuries. I could go on but to not want to give away the story.

Overall..really deep thought provoking book and narration was perfect..highly reccommended.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Of course, much better than the movie

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.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Melissa
  • Dayton, OH, United States
  • 09-29-13

My heart broke all over again

What did you love best about Bastard Out of Carolina?

The gritty truth of the story and the unwavering bond within a family

Would you recommend Bastard Out of Carolina to your friends? Why or why not?

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.

Have you listened to any of Elizabeth Evans’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have not, but would consider doing so; she has great tone and is a very good narrator based on this experience.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

“Everything that comes to us is a blessing or a test. That’s all you need to know in this life.”

Any additional comments?

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Georgina
  • Atizapan de Zaragoza, Mexico
  • 07-17-13

I recommend to read it.

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Alena
  • 09-06-13

This is a great book

Any additional comments?

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Peter
  • 04-19-16

Das beste Buch seit Jahren

Das ist das beste Buch, das ich seit Jahren gelesen / gehört habe. Es ist unglaublich authentisch, manchmal brutal und immer ehrlich.