Winner of the National Book Award
Jesmyn Ward, two-time National Book Award winner and author of Sing, Unburied, Sing, delivers a gritty but tender novel about family and poverty in the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina.
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.
Ward's poetic second novel (after Where the Line Bleeds) covers the 12 days leading up to Hurricane Katrina via the rich, mournful voice of Esch Batiste, a pregnant 14-year-old black girl living with her three brothers and father in dire poverty on the edge of Bois Sauvage, Miss. Stricken with morning sickness and dogged by hunger, Esch helps her drunken father prepare their home for the gathering storm. She also looks after seven-year-old Junior while her oldest brother, Randall, trains to win a scholarship to basketball camp, and middle son Skeet devotes himself to delivering and raising his fighting bitch China's pit bull puppies. All the while, Esch ponders whether she will have the baby and yearns for its father to love her "once he learns secret." Esch traces in the minutiae of every moment of every scene of her life the thin lines between passion and violence, love and hate, life and death, and though her voice threatens to overpower the story, it does a far greater service to the book by giving its cast of small lives a huge resonance.
Customer ReviewsSee All
This book gets to you. You will feel the characters bonds and emotions. Truly an amazing book. 5 stars!!!
I have the physical copy, so bad I decided to leave a 1 star review here as well.
Realistic look at a difficult human condition
After picking up this book, i could not put it down until I finished it. Having survived Katrina in much different circumstances, this reminded me that many were not so lucky. The reality for many Americans in the deep south is that they are marginalized and just barely making it day to day. The family portrayed in this book show in a very honest way that although standards of living are subpar, there is still the capacity for love and the desire to survive.
While circumstances were different for the Batiste family than the Joads in The Grapes of Wrath, I found many parallels to the quiet desperation in these two families. Different times, different challenges, but still that desperate human desire to simply live life, love, and be loved.
Kudos to the author for an honest book that led me to a soul searching look at the human condition.