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Salvage the Bones: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Jesmyn Ward
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (369 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Winner of the 2011 National Book Award 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. While 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 comprise the novel's framework yield to the final day and Hurricane Katrina, the unforgettable family at the novel's heart--motherless children sacrificing for each other as they can, protecting and nurturing where love is scarce--pulls itself up to struggle for another day. A wrenching look at the lonesome, brutal, and restrictive realities of rural poverty, Salvage the Bone is muscled with poetry, revelatory, and real.


Editorial Reviews

Review

Beautifully written ... A powerful depiction of grinding poverty, where somehow amid the deprivation, the flame of filial affection survives and a genuine spirit of community is able to triumph over everything the system and nature can throw at it Daily Mail Masterful... Salvage the Bones has the aura of a classic about it Washington Post A brilliantly pacy adventure-story as the family battles to escape the rising tide. The pages fly past with heart-stopping intensity... Ward writes like a dream. A real dream: uneasy, vivid and deep as the sea The Times The novel's hugeness of heart and fierceness of family grip hold on like Skeetah's pit bull Oprah Magazine

About the Author

Jesmyn Ward grew up in DeLisle, Mississippi. She received her MFA from the University of Michigan, where she won five Hopwood awards for essays, drama, and fiction. A Stegner Fellow at Stanford, from 2008-2010, she has been named the 2010-11 Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi. Her debut novel, Where the Line Bleeds, was an Essence Magazine Book Club selection, a Black Caucus of the ALA Honor Award recipient, and a finalist for both the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award and the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award.

Product Details

  • File Size: 443 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1 edition (August 30, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005IQ2D9W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,109 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
146 of 158 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Salvage the Bones may be Jesmyn Ward's first novel, but what a novel.

Each character is as alive as any ever put to a page, from the dog, China, and her dog fights, to the father, and his inability to cope as a widowed father of four. It's not a pretty story filled with flowers and perfumes, but a story of poverty and strength, hope and love, climaxing as the winds and waters of Katrina send the family into the swirling waters and howling winds to find their own salvation from the storm.

Just like it seemed to all of those who survived the Storm, the days leading up to it were bigger than life, filled with the little things that made life normal as well as preparation for the storm's arrival. Just like reality, no one expected Katrina to deliver the blow it did. From Esch's pregnancy, their father's accident, the dog China and her pups, and the tragedy of youth, each character colors the tale and brings it to life.

No one knew when the storm came that it was going to have the raw power it possessed. Caught in the attic, the storm surge rising, the reality of potentially drowning in their own attic grasps their attention, and in a desperate bid to find safety, a hole is smashed through the roof, and their escape is plotted. It's not without risk, and it comes with loss, but the family all make it to their temporary haven.

It's a powerful story,but its not a pretty story. It ends in the chaos and confusion of the first post-storm days after Katrina, with food and water in desperate shortage and yet it finds the grace and beauty that the best of humanity possesses. It has a real-ness about it that is rare, and the book is one of the best reads I've had in a long time.

I highly recommend it.
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65 of 69 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars captures what it's like to be a teenage girl February 4, 2012
Format:Hardcover
"Salvage the Bones" is set in rural Mississippi, the summer of 2005. The whole novel leads up to the explosion of Hurricane Katrina, but it focuses on two parallel story lines: Esch and China. Fourteen year-old Esch has been the woman of the house, caring for her alcoholic father and brood of brothers, since her mother's death years before. She is also pregnant. Esch dreams constantly of the baby's father, an older boy as gorgeous as he is unattainable. I felt that Ward captures what it feels like to be a teenage girl, and in love, quite convincingly. Sensitive yet matter-of-fact, intelligent yet foolish and impulsive like any teenager, Esch seems like a real girl to me. I would love to read a sequel about her. Most of the other characters were quite likable and convincing as well.

China is the snow-white pit bull whom Esch's brother Skeetah treats as lovingly as his own child (even as he trains her to be a fierce fighting dog). China herself has just had puppies, and the novel explicitly links the fates of Esch and China, which I suppose says a lot about what it feels like to be a poor black girl in the South. This book reminded me of both "The Color Purple" (published in 1982) and "Their Eyes Were Watching God" (published in 1937, and definitely my favorite of the three), and I found it kind of sad that Esch's life shared so many similarities with those of Celie and Janie. She struggles with both the same kind of relentless poverty and the same abuses on account of her gender.

One false note I felt the author struck was in endlessly alluding back to the myth of Medea and Jason, which has the effect of jarring the reader out of the story. As a teenage girl you are experiencing everything for the first time, things that (in your mind) no one has ever experienced before, and trying to tie Esch back into ancient Greek myth feels somehow false. This story and its characters are rich enough on their own.
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61 of 65 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, emotional novel September 18, 2011
Format:Hardcover
Fourteen-year-old Esch, who has just found out that she's pregnant, is simply trying to keep things at home together when she and her family learn of the hurricane that is about to hit their home in Bois Savage, Mississippi. Esch's father, a man who spends most of his time drinking, is concerned about the hurricane and tries to get she and her three brothers to board up windows and get the canned goods together in preparation. Her brother Randall begins this process, her brother Junior tries but is too young to do much, but her brother Skeetah is too busy nursing his pit bull fighter, China, back to health after the birth of her puppies. As this family struggles to pull themselves together, the hurricane becomes the backdrop for all the trials they regularly face in day-to-day life.

Salvage the Bones is unlike any novel I've read before. It is so honest, so raw, and at times so painful that I wanted to close the book and run away, but ultimately I was deeply moved by this story. Esch and her family crawled into my heart and their struggles were so palpable that I wanted to reach through the pages of the book and lift them out.

This book is not an easy read. It broke my heart a million times over. China, Skeetah's pit bull, is a fighting dog and as a person who loves pit bulls and has some very close family and friends who have pits as pets, the whole dogfighting business makes me extremely angry. So it was not the best for me to be reading about people fighting these precious, intelligent, loving, sweet animals. This was probably the most difficult aspect of the book for me, although the family does experience the actual hurricane and that portion of the book was hard to read too.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly depressing
Oy. This one was sooooooo depressing I could hardly get through it. Extreme poverty and teen pregnancy and dog fighting (in detail) and heartache, heartbreak, death, and loss. Read more
Published 10 hours ago by Ms. Jared L. Greer
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful novel
This is a fantastic novel. Jesmyn Ward's prose is beautiful and perfectly captures both the fierce power of a hurricane and the complex emotions of a teenage girl. Read more
Published 1 day ago by myrtleturtle
5.0 out of 5 stars I liked how Ms
I just could not put this book down. The characters are quite memorable and the story leading up to to the dog fight and hurricaine
was well written. I liked how Ms. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Sharon Wollert
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
This was a engaging novel. I look forward to reading other work by this author.
Published 18 days ago by patricia
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
love
Published 1 month ago by Jeannine A.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very powerful and moving novel.
Published 1 month ago by Leslie Wolff
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
It was too unpleasant to finish!
Published 1 month ago by Norman Crews
3.0 out of 5 stars in love with words?
ms ward paints amazing word pictures but they are waay too long. like the dog fight.
the switch between the main charaters language when she talks and when she is having an... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ann S. Bowers
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Lots to talk about when you finish this book,
Published 1 month ago by Fran
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book!
Published 1 month ago by debbie
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More About the Author

Jesmyn Ward is a former Stegner fellow at Stanford and Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi. Her novels, Where the Line Bleeds and Salvage the Bones, are both set on the Mississippi coast where she grew up. Bloomsbury will publish her memoir about an epidemic of deaths of young black men in her community. She is an Assistant Professor at the University of South Alabama.

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