Customer Review

70 of 75 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
This review is from: Salvage the Bones: A Novel (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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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 24, 2012 8:18:21 AM PDT
sylvia says:
outstanding review! brief and to the point! thanks for writing it and thanks to the author for living it!

Posted on Dec 11, 2012 8:16:58 PM PST
This was a good review, but I think that the fact Esch was interested in reading about Medea added depth to the story. Esch was then more appealing, giving her an intellectual quality above the poverty of her family's depressing living conditions. Maybe some readers are not aware that the poor are more trapped by hurricanes than those who can evacuate. I don't know people like this and it was a very involving story and a page turner.
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