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Bastard Out of Carolina Paperback – March 1, 1993

4.4 out of 5 stars 305 customer reviews

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Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Allison spikes her critically acclaimed first novel, a National Book Award nominee, with pungent characters, and saturates it with a sense of its setting--Greenville, S.C.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Set in the rural South, this tale centers around the Boatwright family, a proud and closeknit clan known for their drinking, fighting, and womanizing. Nicknamed Bone by her Uncle Earle, Ruth Anne is the bastard child of Anney Boatwright, who has fought tirelessly to legitimize her child. When she marries Glen, a man from a good family, it appears that her prayers have been answered. However, Anney suffers a miscarriage and Glen begins drifting. He develops a contentious relationship with Bone and then begins taking sexual liberties with her. Embarrassed and unwilling to report these unwanted advances, Bone bottles them up and acts out her confusion and shame. Unaware of her husband's abusive behavior, Anney stands by her man. Eventually, a violent encounter wrests Bone away from her stepfather. In this first novel, Allison creates a rich sense of family and portrays the psychology of a sexually abused child with sensitivity and insight. Recommended for general fiction collections.
-Kimberly G. Allen, National Assn. of Home Builders Lib., Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 309 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (March 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452269571
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452269576
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (305 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #668,244 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
First off, I am from Greenville County, SC. I no longer live there, but I can say that Allison captured the setting perfectly. She described places I've seen, the kinds of people I've seen. But every county (north and south of the Mason-Dixon line) has its "white trash," though it seems to be a Southern stereotype.

The language of this book is incredible. I've noticed in some of the reviews, the readers suggested more editing. This is told from the eyes of a young rural girl. She does not have the vocabulary of an English professor. I love that people who have only had reviews for Amazon published can actually commment on the writing ability of someone with the talent of Allison. Another reviewer said the book was depressing. If she needed a "feel-good" story, she should stick with the CHICK-LIT shelves. Life isn't always fun or humorous or happy in the end.
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By A Customer on February 25, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I read this book as part of a college literature assignment. Bastard Out of Carolina is a well-written, deeply moving, and unforgettable novel about a young southern girl's struggle with physical and sexual abuse, along with the stigma of being labeled "white trash" and "illegitimate." Ms. Allison's characters are vibrant and alive, especially the young girl, Bone, who poignantly tells the tale of her tormented youth. For all its literary worth, this is not a book that I would have read on my own. The story is deeply disturbing, not only in its content but in the underlying hopelessness of tone. One feels an overwhelming instinct to cradle Bone in one's arms to protect her from her frustrated, jealous, and emotionally disturbed stepfather and from her mother's senseless abandonment. Bone's reactions of burning anger, festering hatred, and perverted fantasies, along with her resultant self image, compound the hopelessness of her young life. Salvation and vindication can only be acquired through her love of gospel music...and although she's told repeatedly that she can't sing, her heart yearns and pleads to God for the gift of song. But the gift of salvation through Jesus that God freely offers is never accepted, and only Bone knows why. Instead of salvation, Bone finds a haven in the home of her lesbian aunt, Raylene. While Raylene is a compassionate, strong, and loving woman, the reader is left with the impression at the conclusion of the story that Bone struggles with her experiences for the rest of her life. Perhaps the quote by James Baldwin at the beginning of the book says it best: "People pay for what they do, and still more, for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it simply: by the lives they lead.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Yowtch! This searing quasi-autobiography dressed up as fiction is worth every painful moment it takes to get through it. The book's title says a lot: it's the story of the childhood of a "white trash bastard" and her battles against physical and sexual abuse. I wonder: was this the first book that inaugurated the era of so many memoirs about childhood abuse that Oprah eventually elevated to mythic levels?
Bastard out of Carolina is a scarey story with memorable characters who will haunt readers nearly as thoroughly as they haunted Bone, the child protagonist: the violent ones, the jealous ones, the just plain weird ones, the inexplicable ones...
This is not a book with a happy ending. One gets the sense that the end of the story hasn't been written - possibly because the author hasn't lived it yet.
Outstanding. Worth 6 stars.
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Format: Paperback
This is an awesome book. I love to read and at this point, I have read so much - I am a hard to please reader. The prose is simple, yet it will grab and hold your attention. In fact, before I comment on the story, let me say that if you are an aspiring writer - this is a good book to read just to see what simple, yet very engaging prose looks like. I don't care what kind of writer you are, if you have to communicate anything to anyone in "words," you will benefit from reading this.

The story is told from the perspective of a child, but as an adult (and this is definitely adult reading), you won't be able to put it down. There are summaries that I won't rehash, but let me say this - one thing I can't shake is that throughout the book, I wanted to occasionally question Bone's mother about her choices. I found myself wishing that she had made different decisions - especially the decisions that hurt her children and caused her embarrassment. There are also a few racial references in here that some will find disturbing - but it was a reality of the time period in which this book is set. If you are looking for a book to make you smile or laugh, this is not it. But one motif that I did find encouraging was that of family. Throughout, Bone's extended family is a strong one - despite the hardships they face and the disagreements they have. Unfortunately, the love of her family couldn't protect her from everything.

Although this is about a poor, white, southern family, there's something in the story that brings to mind one of my favorite books,"The Bluest Eye," by Toni Morrison. I mention that to say, if you like Toni Morrison, I think you'll enjoy this book.
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