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 doesnt 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. Meanwhile, 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 make up the novel’s framework yield to their dramatic conclusion, this unforgettable family—motherless children sacrificing for one another as they can, protecting and nurturing where love is scarce—pulls itself up to face another day. A big-hearted novel about familial love and community against all odds, and a wrenching look at the lonesome, brutal, and restrictive realities of rural poverty, Salvage the Bones is muscled with poetry, revelatory, and real. (Goodreads synopsis)
Salvage the Bones is an adult novel that is somewhat of a family saga only it is less than 300 pages and takes place over a 12 day span. This book was fantastic and easily one of my favorite books of not only the year but all time!
From the beginning of the book I was unable to put it down. The writing followed with such finesse there was never a good place to stop. I cared deeply for Esch and her brothers and even China the dog. I was enthralled by the way the way Jesmyn Ward was able to build up doom but it never seemed overdone. There is one part in a book where the scene is alternating between two very serious incidents and I never felt loss or confused. I followed it perfectly and was enthralled by how she was able to write this particular scene.
Esch was such flawed and layered character that I loved her and hated her at the same time. Her voice seemed authentically fourteen years old and I ached for her as she went through finding out she was pregnant and trying to keep it a secret. She cared so deeply for her family that it was almost to fault, but in the end she was still just a teenage girl who needed guidance.
There is a paragraph in this book after the hurricane passes over and I re-read it 5 times because it was so beautiful written and evocative of how I felt. If I was a book crier, I definitely would have dissolved into tears. This one paragraph solidified Jesmyn Ward as one of my top 5 favorite authors of ALL TIME.
Trigger Warnings for teenage sex, dog fighting , emotional abuse, neglectful parent, alcohol abuse, mild language
Overall, I obviously loved this book to pieces and cannot wait to pick up her newest book Sing, Unburied, Sing which just came out. I want to re-read this book again very soon because I feel like there is so much that I missed.
If you have read this book I would love to talk about it with you. Just message me (no spoilers in the comments please).
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