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Salvage the Bones: A Novel Hardcover – August 30, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 261 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1 edition (August 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608195228
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608195220
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.9 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (354 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

2011 National Book Award Winner
 
"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

"Searing… Despite the brutal world it depicts, Salvage the Bones is a beautiful read. Ward’s redolent prose conjures the magic and menace of the southern landscape."Dallas Morning News

"This book is impossibly beautiful."—OxfordAmerican.org

"The novel’s power comes from the dread of the approaching storm and a pair of violent climaxes. The first is a dog fight, an appalling spectacle given emotional depth by Skeetah’s love for the pit bull China (their bond is the strongest and most affecting in the book). When the hurricane strikes, Ms. Ward endows it, too, with attributes maternal and savage: ‘Katrina is the mother we will remember until the next mother with large merciless hands, committed to blood, comes.’"Wall Street Journal

"From its lyrical yet visceral first scene, this novel had me, and I hardly dared to put it down for fear a spell might be broken. But it never was or will be, such are the gifts of this writer." —Laura Kasischke, author of In a Perfect World

"Jesmyn Ward has written… the first Katrina-drenched fiction I'd press upon readers now… Ward's pacing around the hurricane is exquisite—we nearly forget its impending savagery. The Batistes’ shared sacrifice is moving, made more so by their occasional shirking of sacrifice. Ward allows the letdowns integral to family life to play their part." Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH)

"A pitch-perfect account of struggle and community in the rural South… Though the characters in Salvage the Bones face down Hurricane Katrina, the story isn’t really about the storm. It’s about people facing challenges, and how they band together to overcome adversity."BookPage

"Jesmyn Ward has claimed her place both as a contemporary witness of life in the rural South and as a descendent of its great originals… The voice is lyric, unsparing and fierce. You won’t forget this book." —Nicholas Delbanco, author of Lastingness

"Ward uses fearless, toughly lyrical language to convey this family’s close-knit tenderness [and] the sheer bloody-minded difficulty of rural African American life... It’s an eye-opening heartbreaker that ends in hope… You owe it to yourself to read this book." —Library Journal (starred review)

"Both unflinching and tender, heartbreaking and triumphant. A lyrical and riveting testament to the strength of the human spirit… This is an extraordinary book by an extraordinary writer." —Skip Horack, author of The Eden Hunter

"Few works of fiction can capture the heart-wrenching emotions attached to a natural disaster, and fewer still can do it in a way that seems palpable and fresh. Salvage the Bones, the latest by rising star Jesmyn Ward, accomplishes this feat, and then some…. From beginning to end, Jesmyn flirts with perfection in this stunning second novel, and the reader is rewarded for it." Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, VA)

"Salvage the Bones is an engaging novel that, on the surface, seems like a sorrowful tale of a broken household, yet holds beneath it the cherished story of family and loyalty." —TheRoot.com

"Deeply felt and bristling with breathtaking imagery, Salvage the Bones will hold its readers utterly riveted to the very last page." —Travis Holland, author of The Archivist’s Story

"Salvage the Bones…is uncompromising and frank, showing both beauty and violence, poverty and resilience, in a powerful and poetic voice."Sun Herald (Biloxi, MS)

"[A] poetic second novel … 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 … Her voice… [gives the book’s] cast of small lives a huge resonance."Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Salvage the Bones is a novel that will make readers wince at times and tear up at others. Ward gives voice to the forgotten families of the Gulf Coast through lyrical imagery and the type of uncensored authenticity that can only be delivered through the eyes of a child… it is a true testament to the realities of rural poverty." — Bust

"Jesmyn Ward writes like an angel with a knife to your throat, compelling you with exquisite language and a clear voice to go where she goes, to see what she sees. Salvage the Bones is at turns unsettling and uplifting—raw and honest as a dogfight, lyrical as a poem." —Ken Wells, author of Meely LaBauve

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. She has been a Stegner Fellow at Stanford and a Grisham Visiting Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi. She is currently an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of South Alabama. Her debut novel, Where the Line Bleeds, was an Essence Book Club selection, a Black Caucus of the ALA Honor Award recipient, and a finalist for both the Virginia Commonwealth University Cabell First Novelist Award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.

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.

Customer Reviews

This is a beautifully written story.
Melissa King
They were interesting only because the author seemed to put more effort into developing them than the other characters in the book.
Kesha loves 2 read
As soon as I finished this book, I wanted to start it again.
A. Prentice

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

144 of 156 people found the following review helpful By G. Miller VINE VOICE on July 1, 2011
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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64 of 67 people found the following review helpful By esplicito con beige on 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 By Heather ORoark on 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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