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Where the Line Bleeds [Kindle Edition]

Jesmyn Ward
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Book Description

Joshua and Christophe are twins, raised by a blind grandmother and a large extended family in a rural town on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. They’ve just finished high school and need to find jobs, but in a failing post-Katrina economy, it’s not easy. Joshua gets work on the docks, but Christophe’s not so lucky. Desperate to alleviate the family’s poverty, he starts to sell drugs. He can hide it from his grandmother but not his twin, and the two grow increasingly estranged. Christophe’s downward spiral is accelerated first by crack, then by the reappearance of the twins’ parents: Cille, who abandoned them, and Sandman, a creepy, predatory addict. Sandman taunts Christophe, eventually provoking a shocking confrontation that will ultimately damn or save both twins. Ward inhabits these characters, and this world — black Creole, poor, and drug-riddled, yet shored by family and community— to a rare degree, without a trace of irony or distance.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Impoverished twins living along the Mississippi Gulf Coast struggle to survive after high school in Ward's starkly beautiful debut. Abandoned by their mother and raised by their loving but ailing grandmother, Joshua and Christophe DeLisle know job prospects are slim in rural Bois Sauvage, so they spend their days playing basketball and flirting with the local girls. Eventually, even with no work history, Joshua is hired to work on the docks, but Christophe falls in with the brothers' drug-dealing cousin. Too ashamed to admit that he spends his days in the park selling marijuana, Christophe secretly contributes to the family's expenses with regular deposits to his grandmother's purse. But when Christophe decides to start selling more dangerous drugs, tensions between the twins grow, and the arrival of their long-absent drug addict father sparks a violent confrontation. A fresh new voice in American literature, Ward unflinchingly describes a world full of despair but not devoid of hope. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–African-American twins Joshua and Christophe graduate from high school and try to find jobs. While Joshua has success becoming a dockworker, Christophe is less fortunate and desperation eventually finds him turning to drug dealing. The teens are loyal to their grandmother, who raised them after their mother moved to Atlanta to start a new life and their addict father disappeared. While this plot (and the books cover) may be reminiscent of an urban fiction title, the setting is unique–rural Mississippi–and the writing is distinctive. Wards beautiful language allows the location and characters to come alive, while her dialogue, written in a Southern vernacular, adds further texture. The plot is as leisurely as a hot Mississippi summer day, and although not much happens until the somewhat violent and surprising ending, this fully realized character study will appeal to teens who can see themselves here or who are interested in discovering realities far from their own lives.–Jamie Watson, Harford County Public Library, MD
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1663 KB
  • Print Length: 230 pages
  • Publisher: Agate Bolden (November 1, 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001QFYPL8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #366,298 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Absorbing and Gritty Portrait October 28, 2008
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I really enjoyed Where the Line Bleeds. This book is about choices made growing up in a poor part of America. Christophe and Joshua are fraternal twins, fresh out of high school. When the story opens, they are ready to seek jobs. The future is unclear, if wide open.

They are surrounded with family members whose own lives are either guideposts or hazards. Their father, Sandman, is largely absent because of addiction to drugs. Their mother has left for Atlanta and a series of decent jobs working retail. She provides the brothers with material needs, but she is woefully absent as a caregiver.

Instead, the twins are really cared for by their grandmother, Ma-Mee, and a cousin, Dunny.

Sandman, in particular, is a strong character. Easily he is one of the most pitiable figures in a book that I have read in a long time. For the author to make a person who is an absentee father and an addict into such a person takes a lot of doing. He is a ghost to the reader for a while, but by the end, I felt bad for him.

This book has a strong sense of place. It is set in a small town on the shore line of the Mississippi River. There is not a lot of opportunity in Bois Sauvage, or even in its sister community of St. Catherine's, where the white families live. The soil is full of clay. You need 10 acres to grow enough, so back when it was an agricultural community for African-Americans retreating from New Orleans, the people settled in a very spread out fashion. It is after Katrina. The economy is limited. The port has good jobs. Most jobs are in gas stations or fast food, though.

It was that sense of place that made me like this book so much. There is a lot of detail here that testifies to a way of life: what to get at the store if you want to boil shrimp, the code of conduct among kids playing pick-up basketball, the joy of wearing a nice outfit on the Fourth of July.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Fraternal twins Christophe and Joshua struggle toward adulthood following their high school graduation. The Mississippi Gulf-Coast setting and limited economic opportunities are vividly drawn here, immersing the reader thoroughly in the boys' world and their difficult choices.

So alike when the story begins, the brothers soon begin drifting apart when one finds a job and the other doesn't. Their differences expand as time goes on. Drug-related opportunities and downfalls are always lurking at the edges of this story; the boys' father is a local crackhead known as "Sandman," who's had no more a part in raising them than their self-centered mother (who ran off to Atlanta when the boys were five).

The twins are tied to the area by loyalty to the grandmother who raised them; her blindness and diabetes mean she needs them as they needed her all those years before. They cannot leave her or each other, and being trapped changes which choices still remain.

The version I read was pre-release, with occasional typos. That doesn't explain the roughness of some of the point-of-view shifts, however, the sense of which persists even though the POV is resolved. The narration moves between all three main characters, primarily the twins, but it was the grandmother's character whose perspective was most unexpected and refreshing, particularly her memories of her late husband.

The language and description convey real affection for this Creole region and its people, and an understanding of the emotional prison of abandoned children who can never stop chasing the love of the parent who left them.

This,

"Ma-mee dimming like a bulb, his parents' places unknown and orbiting them like distant moons..."

is the world that awaits the boys.

This slow, rich story details how they come to deal with it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One shared history, two paths to the future September 25, 2008
By BMAR
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"Where the Line Bleeds" is an intriguing story that looks at fraternal twin brothers, who though they have shared a womb, share very little besides that. Joshua and Christopher pursue drastically different paths - one a straight-laced, hard worker; the other making his mark on the street.

These brothers respond extremely differently to a life without the loving guidance of a mother or father. The author presents may sides to the tale, making it an intriguing read with a little something for many readers.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Where the Line Bleeds October 21, 2008
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Plot Briefly: Twins Joshua and Christophe have just graduated from high school. Neither even thinks of going to college or moving away. That would mean leaving behind Ma-mee, the grandmother that raised them. They both want to get jobs nearby to support her. However, being in a rural area, there aren't many jobs. After some weeks, Joshua lands a job at the docks. Christophe is jealous since he's the more confident, dominant twin. If only one of them got a job, he thought it'd be him. He starts his drug-selling career reluctantly as his pride and his love of Ma-mee demand that he earn money for their household.

Some Thoughts: Where the Line Bleeds covers the events of one summer. I was expecting more of a weighty story that covered half a life span or so, but this is more realistic. As the author mentions, drug dealers in their area don't last in the business for long. They're either arrested or become drug addicts themselves. I'd describe the novel as a coming of age story. It's the summer that will shape Chris and Josh's lives.

The Warning: There is drug use, discussion of drug paraphernalia, and details about the preparation of drugs for selling in this novel.

The Compliments: Where the Line Bleeds is very well written. It's delicate in its artistry and never blatant. If it were a painting, I'd call it a watercolor. The author displays the close relationship between Joshua and Christophe with every touch or gesture. Many times it seems as if they are an extension of one another. Likewise, you feel the conflicted relationship the boys have with the parents who abandoned them.

The Criticisms: There were times when the author seemed to get lost in a description of how hot it was or just in describing the area.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
My type of book. Couldn't put it down.
Published 4 days ago by Maria L Rustin
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a bad book, but could have been better
I understood what was going on with the twins, I just felt that some parts of the book gave too must information and others that did give enough. The ending left me hanging.
Published 3 months ago by L. Patricia Reed
4.0 out of 5 stars Clear and vivid imagery
Jesmyn Ward's writing draws you in with its fluent details, aligning you immediately beside her characters and in the middle of each scene.
Published 6 months ago by Molly Dodd
4.0 out of 5 stars love to read in mi
the writer was able to make me feel like i was there at all of the scenes of the story, had met the people, knew them. very effective story telling.
Published 9 months ago by tonyaj
5.0 out of 5 stars a must read!
I couldn't put this down from the time I opened it. Tells a very touching story of growing up in the south and the road blocks that black men encounter trying to become men. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars unreadable
i hate to give up and coming artist a bad review, espec a fellow black, but I could not get into this book. Read more
Published 10 months ago by bluestater
2.0 out of 5 stars Meh
I was looking forward to this book but found it to be slow-moving with way too much dialogue and insignificant detail, as others have already pointed out. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Commenterri
3.0 out of 5 stars a good first effort
There are several remarkable features of this novel, the first by National Book Award winning writer, Jaemyn Ward (for Salvage the Bones. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Raoul Wientzen
5.0 out of 5 stars A Modern Classic
This book takes its place among the finest contemporary literature.
It is engrossing, heartbreaking but not sentimental, and the characters
are unforgettable. Read more
Published 18 months ago by J. Uppendahl
3.0 out of 5 stars People who like to read street lit would consider this high...
People who like to read street lit would consider this high literature. Nothing is particularly important or exciting about this book. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Rhea
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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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