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Bastard Out of Carolina

4.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  28,621 Ratings  ·  1,838 Reviews
Greenville County, South Carolina, is a lush place of black walnut trees and weeping willows, of sweet tea served on shaded porches. It is also home to the Boatwright family - rough-hewn men who drink hard and shoot up each other's trucks, and indomitable women who marry young and age all too quickly. At the heart of this memorable family - and of this astonishing novel - ...more
Hardcover, 309 pages
Published April 30th 1992 by Dutton Adult (first published January 1st 1992)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Jun 02, 2015 Jeffrey Keeten rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jeffrey by: On the Southern Literary Trail
Shelves: southern
”He pinned me between his hip and the sink, lifting me slightly and bending me over. I reached out and caught hold of the porcelain, trying not to grab at him, not to touch him. No. No. No. He was raging, spitting, the blows hitting the wall as often as they hit me. Beyond the door, Mama was screaming. Daddy Glen was grunting. I hate him. I hated him. The belt went up and came down. Fire along my thighs. Pain. I would not scream. I would not, would not, would not scream.”

Bone played by Jena Mal
Bastard Out of Carolina: A Reader's Personal Reflection

“People pay for that they do, and still more, for what they have allowed themselves to become. And the pay for it simply: by the lives they lead. - James Baldwin” --From the epigraph to the novel.

"No one knows what goes on behind closed doors."

It is hard to swallow, hard to believe, stories such as the one told by Dorothy Allison. The world would be a much prettier and more pleasant place if we did not have to believe things of the natu
This book is beautifully written, but I did not enjoy it. It is a grim story of poverty, child abuse and rape. The prose may be lovely but the drama is harrowing.

"Things come apart so easily when they have been held together with lies."

Bastard Out of Carolina is the story of Ruth Anne Boatwright, but everyone calls her Bone. She was born out of wedlock and doesn't know who her daddy is. Her mama tried several times to get the word "illegitimate" removed from Bone's birth certificate, but the cou
helen the bookowl
Aug 05, 2015 helen the bookowl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that leaves you with so many questions, but I think the afterword really helped me understand the overall message, and it made me realize how important this book is.
This is a brutal and honest story about Ruth who grows up with her mother, her sister and her step-father in America. She is also surrounded by a ton of aunts and uncles who help her guide her through life. This book is not for the faint-hearted, but still I think it's very important that everybody read it
Dorothy Allison pissed a few people off when she first wrote this novel. Boy am I glad she did. Why should literature seek to please, rather than excite the reader? Why should it try to be polite in order to seek the truth? Should books not produce composed disorder, honest diatribes, and gut-wrenching truths? Insult me, make me angry, make me laugh, make me cry, leave my mouth agape from disbelief at your crude renunciations of what I thought was orthodox--all things that good books do.

In Gree
Larry Bassett
”Oh, but that’s why I got to cut his throat,” she said plainly. “If I didn’t love the son of a bitch, I’d let him live forever.”

This statement written by Dorothy Allison in Bastard Out of Carolina and spoken by Alma is often quoted in reviews. Words in the Boatwright family are not always logical and rarely without passion. By the time you read this book you will have had enough experience with the large dysfunctional family to know that.
I remembered Aunt Alma’s direct look this afternoon whe
Nov 23, 2015 Jon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reminiscent of This Boy’s Life and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, the novel is a coming of age story set in the rural south. The novel opens with the birth of main character and narrator of the story, Ruth Anne (nicknamed Bone), the illegitimate daughter of a 15-year-old member of the dirt poor Boatwright clan. The book, a semi-autobiography, chronicles Bone’s youth growing up as “poor, white trash” and the abuse she suffers at the hands of her emotionally disturbed stepfather.

The abuse scenes
Jun 17, 2007 Robert rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Bastard Out of Carolina is one of those books about which all of the hooplah surrounding it really baffles me. Allison basically plagiarizes herself by, instead of expanding what was a quite good short story she wrote and published in High Risk: An Anthology of Forbidden Writings, simply cutting and pasting sections of it throughout the book (I actually went through it and identified the sections because I could scarcely believe a serious author would do something so incredibly lazy). The final ...more
I was really looking forward to some Southern Comfort with a side serving of White Trash to Gari gargle with, after a longish bout of ‘classic’ literature. Its necessary, when one finds oneself saying ‘wherwithal’ and ‘henceforth’ in all seriousness. Over a pint.

But Dorothy Allison doesn’t deliver what she promises on the label. There is, forsooth (oops, there I go again), no White Trash qualia here at all. No madness, no real violence (save for two scenes towards the end), no drunkenness, no n
Jan 24, 2012 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Took the shine off my teeth, this one. But also made me want to torch every bottle distributor truck in the Carolinas just in case it might slow down that piece of work Glen and his damn fool wife. Forget about burning down the Greenville courthouse. Bone had the right idea when she went up on the roof: you got to hit them the only place they can feel, in the cash pocket.

I read this slow. Slow and stubborn, which felt just right. And now I'm snake-bit: I need to hear more from Granny about what
Feb 13, 2015 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'I had wanted to laugh at everyone, Raylene and the nurses, all of them watching me like some fragile piece of glass, ready to shatter around boiling water. I was boiling inside. I was cooking away. I was who I was going to be, and she was a terrible person.'

A word of warning right from the start if you are sensitive to physical, sexual and mental abuse than this book may be one you will wan't to avoid. Narrated by Ruth Anne 'Bone' Boatwright, this a harrowing story of a dysfunctional but loving
A.M. O'Malley
Aug 30, 2012 A.M. O'Malley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just read this for the second time.

When I was still at home, still under his roof. I saw the film adaptation of Bastard Out Of Carolina. We all did; my mother, him, the boys we watched it together in the living room. I laid on the floor in front of the TV and felt all the muscles in my body tense and a hot flush go through me as I watched the story of Bone , the bastard girl. Her mama married a man—after a hard life, he was her second chance—and then her mama stood by as that man hurt Bone. H
Sue Davis
Oct 28, 2012 Sue Davis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most heart wrenching, shockingly sad novels about poverty, family interaction, dysfunction and abuse that I have read recently. For me Allison's treatment of class and gender and, to a lesser extent, race (always there in a southern novel) makes Bastard Out of Carolina such an important contribution to southern literature rather than just a very sad story about an incredibly feckless mother.

A quotation that captures the theme of class and race in the context of southern histo
Demisty Bellinger
Aug 22, 2008 Demisty Bellinger rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who liked _Fried Green Tomatoes_ and working class fiction
Recommended to Demisty by: Dr. Nick Spencer, a really neat peson.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 20, 2015 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2015
God damn, this was rough as guts.
Jul 11, 2008 Lewis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A contemporary classic, this powerful novel is a disturbing tale of child abuse, told with wisdom and restraint. Allison brilliantly tells the story through the first-person narrative of Bone, a young girl who doesn’t want to believe what’s happening to her, so for the most part she reveals the truth sparingly—which makes the more dramatic moments that much more terrifying. Allison deftly captures the psychological nuances of the situation at the same time, making clear to the reader some things ...more
Nov 22, 2008 jo rated it it was ok
Shelves: trauma
i have no idea why this book gets so much love. the writing is mediocre, the story construction weak-linked, the point fudged by so much nonsense, it's blurry and romanticized and wrapped in cheap tin foil and smelling of county fair cotton candy. and the mistique of class: i like it just as much as i like the mistique of ethnicity, i.e. not at all.
Ginny Messina
Dec 11, 2007 Ginny Messina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On her web site Dorothy Allison says "What I am here for is to tell you stories you may not want to hear." Bastard Out of Carolina is definitely a hard story to hear.

It is a beautifully-written semi-autobiographical account of a childhood in 1950s-60s South Carolina. The protagonist, nicknamed Bone, is a victim of poverty and physical abuse, including sexual abuse. But she is also part of a big extended family, all of whom are poor, uneducated, loving, and protective. Allison lived this story a
Jul 15, 2009 Lee rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the pretentious
Shitty book. Not badly written-characters not flat or cardboard. So I really had to ask myself, "Why is this book so bad? Why did I dislike it so much?"

Answer: because it's boring. Sure, stuff happens. It's not logged down with too much detail, or badly executed, or anything like that. The story, the events, the plot itself, is one of the most boring I've ever came across.

We have this little girl. She's born into bad circumstances, and that's okay. But then bad shit happens to her. Again. Again
Dusty Myers
Nov 24, 2008 Dusty Myers rated it it was ok
One thing I know for sure is that Bastard out of Carolina is, in the end, a very conservative book. Its focus is on the family. Ruth Anne Boatwright is a girl born the titular bastard to a teenage mother, Annie, and an absent father. The mother remarries after she has another kid with a man who dies, and this man she marries—Daddy Glen—turns out in what has now become a cliche in the memoir/autobionovel genre to be abusive. First it's verbal/emotional, then it becomes physical/sexual. All the wh ...more
Jenna~Ice Queen~Dreams
Another book suggested by Jahy. Shesh, I think she must be my hero or something. I had watched the movie a few times and now finally read the book. Honestly, I think I may like the movie more but it may be because it was visible. Still, this book absolutely deserves 5 stars. Hard to read that is for sure. The ending killed me. Highly recommend.
Dec 21, 2015 Kiwi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, classics
My rating is partly a measure of my enjoyment rather than an assessment on the story and the author’s writing. Dorothy Allison sure knows how to write but the child neglect, violence and the descriptions of Bone’s brutal experiences were too much for me, I found really hard not to put this book aside. It is no surprise this novel was banned in schools.
I don’t believe in banning books and this one has an important message about family abuse that needs to be addressed but it is not a read I would
Sep 06, 2012 Lela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book. The characters are so well-drawn and realistic. It has some really great moments as the world is seen through Bone's eyes. Painful, too. Would like more books like this!
4.5 stars

I was warned so I knew what I was getting into but this was a difficult read. I felt like I couldn't take my eyes off a car wreck.Ruth Anne, generally known as Bone, is a believable character. She's not a reliable reporter as she's just a young girl with a child's skewed perspective. But she just felt so real to me. The story follows Bone from about age 5 until the end of her twelfth year.

Allison was actually able to create a whole cast of believable characters. The uncles, loved and a
J. Danielle Dorn
Nov 28, 2012 J. Danielle Dorn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtq, 2012
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 31, 2008 Elaine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mainstreamlitfic
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The back of your throat burns as anger and hatred bubble over like the pots of fruit for canning on Aunt Raylene’s stove. Excitement and revenge consume you while you seek some semblance of justice through the iron fists of the endearing uncles. You cry until you’re stone-faced and numb, haunted by the sorrow of complete and utter loneliness in a county inundated with kin. Dorothy Allison forces the reader to commiserate with Bone’s anguish and despair as though they were living it. Brutal, hear ...more
Lucinda Williams was the soundtrack for this one. It was swallowed quickly, almost lapped. I felt possessed at times, perhaps sensing some reflections towards my own upbringing. I found the ending elgaic.
I am very aware that I am supposed to love this novel, but I can barely like it. I am disappointed to be saying this but I can only give this book a 2.5 star-rating. I guess that I must have set my expectations too high for this one. I was hoping and searching for prose prose prose, and for something more exploratory and more dynamic, but this novel is simply plot and dialogue, dialogue and plot between a loose cast of characters. The book presents to the reader some complex, traumatic issues ho ...more
Jun 08, 2010 Ashley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Don't waste your time on authors who put their therapy on a shelf. It's a sad, depressing story that inspires rage in anyone who reads it; however, at some point I stopped feeling terrible for this girl and started berating her (or the author... it really is autobiographical). No one spends nearly a decade being sexually abused and still questions whether or not what is happening to them is abuse. But that is only the plot (and one small element of the plot that doesn't make sense), the style of ...more
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Dorothy Allison is an American writer, speaker, and member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Themes in Allison's work include class struggle, child and sexual abuse, women, lesbianism, feminism, and family.

Allison's first novel, the semi-autobiographical Bastard Out of Carolina, was published in 1992 and was one of five finalists for the 1992 National Book Award.

Allison founded The Independe
More about Dorothy Allison...

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“Things come apart so easily when they have been held together with lies.” 924 likes
“Everything that comes to us is a blessing or a test. That’s all you need to know in this life…just the certainty that God’s got His eye on you, that He knows what you are made of, what you need to grow on. Why,questioning’s a sin, it’s pointless. He will show you your path in His own good time. And long as I remember that, I’m fine.” 52 likes
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