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Bastard Out of Carolina Audiobook

Bastard Out of Carolina

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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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  •  
    David 03-29-16
    David 03-29-16 Member Since 2017
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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
  •  
    C D 09-04-17
    C D 09-04-17
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    "Enjoyable "

    At first I didn't think I would like it, but soon I couldn't stop listening to the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Turk70 fairhope,al 36533 08-12-17
    Turk70 fairhope,al 36533 08-12-17 Member Since 2011
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    "Banned books"

    This book should never be banned. Our children need to know, they are not alone with their secrets.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda 07-21-17
    Linda 07-21-17 Member Since 2011
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    "Found this book to be profound."

    I put off listening to this book, but so glad I finally did. It's rare I would call a novel 'profound,' but this one fills the bill. It is a 'novel,' as the author reminds us in the Afterward. However, I felt as if I were living the real life of a southern family and the abused child of one of their members. Mamma dearly loved her baby girl, born out of wedlock at a time and place where that was not generally accepted by society. Illegitimate was stamped on her child's birth certificate. Mamma later married and had another baby girl. Things were idyllic for a while until tragedy struck and she lost her husband. A few years later she remarried and the stepfather entered the picture. Life was good for this new family for a while, but gradually began to unravel as difficulties came along. This is a story that echos the real life struggles and cruelty and frailties of too many of us. As one man told the author years later ...You told my story. I'm sure many of us could say the same thing. Moving and profound in its message.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    That Adler Woman 06-29-17
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    "Required Reading"

    Read Hillbilly Eligy, then read this novel, then ask yourself how we as a society can support positive change.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Quigley 06-05-17
    J. Quigley 06-05-17
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    "Depressing"

    From beginning to end it made me horribly sad.
    The writing itself was very good, but I listen for joy, not to be brought down.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shawn 05-24-17
    Shawn 05-24-17 Member Since 2017
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    "A heart breaking must read."

    Though I can't relate to either Bone or Dorothy, my heart aches for those two girls. And any other child that endures horrors in this world. Let your children read this book. Let them have their hearts sympathize and eyes open to the pain that sometimes engulfs our beautiful world.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joy 05-08-17
    Joy 05-08-17 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Equal parts intense and mundane"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The author explains in the afterword why she chose to have write this story as fiction and not memoir. It made perfect sense, and goodness knows I defer to her wisdom about writing a life of pain and bringing the message to the world. That said, I spent the entire thing wishing it was a memoir. I find something comes through that genre that is lost when fictionalized. It read like a memoir in a somewhat disconnected, scenes-from-a-life way, but for me it didn't have the same juice as if it was an actual recounting. Beginning and end were powerful. The rest only ever had half my attention.


    Any additional comments?

    Other readers have plastered their reviews with trigger warnings. While some scenes are intense, it's no more disturbing than other stories of sexual assault I've read. Might be that it personally triggered folks who had the same experience -- in which case, I'm so sorry if anything like that happened to you. I wish you healing and peace.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sandy Norman, OK, United States 10-29-16
    Sandy Norman, OK, United States 10-29-16 Member Since 2014
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    "It could have been half the length"

    I was disappointed in the story. Yes, it was very sad and unfortunate. But it was way to long and just repeated basically the same thing over and over.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lora S. 10-28-16
    Lora S. 10-28-16 Member Since 2013
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    "A sad story, beautifully told"

    This is one of those painful but important books.

    Ruth Anne Boatwright, the bastard of the title, is born into a family of men who like to drink and fight and women who mostly marry young, have too many children and not enough support, but who manage to survive anyway. Her father was married to another woman and Ruth Anne, who is called by her family just Bone, never knew him. Her first stepfather died only a few years after marrying her mother. Her second stepfather comes to blame Bone for all the things that are wrong in his life – his own father’s rejection of him, his inability to keep a job or a house, and the death of his only son – Bone’s half-brother – at birth. He abuses her horribly, physically and otherwise. The systems that should protect, or at least avenge, her all fail. And even when her uncles take it upon themselves to punish him, it only seems to make matters worse. In the end Bone, a very insightful girl, is left angry and bitter.

    A sad story, beautifully told. The narration is exactly right.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Alena
    U.K.
    9/6/13
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    "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
  • Peter
    4/19/16
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    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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