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Where the Line Bleeds

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  233 ratings  ·  44 reviews
"Set in a rural town on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Where the Line Bleeds tells the story of fraternal twins Joshua and Christophe, who are graduating from high school as the novel begins. The two boys both anticipate and dread their lives as adults. Joshua finds a job working as a dock laborer on the Gulf of Mexico, unloading cargo. But Christophe has less luck: Unable to ...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published December 1st 2006)
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Jenni Ogden
Apr 19, 2012 Jenni Ogden rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of Southern fiction, writers
Shelves: fiction
This is another superbly written book by Jesmyn Ward. For me it was not a page turner in the sense that "Salvage The Bones" was, but it was more an experience to savour. Jesmyn's ability to get inside her characters' heads is phenomenal. I don't think I have ever come across an author who can do it better. By the end of the book I felt as if I knew the twins, Joshua and Christophe, and their beloved Ma-mee intimately, and had gained many new insights into a world that is far from my own experien ...more
Reading this amazing debut novel by Jesmyn Ward proves that she is a master of spare, unflinching and unsentimental prose just as she is a wizard of innovative, shifty and lyrical language as found in her more famous "Salvage the Bones". For me, I found this novel to be just as much an emotional experience and one of the most beautiful stories about brothers that can get. Twins Joshua and Christophe are handsome, popular with girls, and recent high school graduates in the Bois Savage countryside ...more
I was captured by the title, after reading her other book in a club read selection "Savage the Bones," then I decided to read her other work. This is her debut novel. While reading nearly halfway, you are able to picture fraternal twins with slightly different traits but want to do things together--basketball, even work, or get the interview as a unit. However, Joshua gets it and makes Christophe frustrated and thinking he only has one route to go--sell weed. I recall my teen years around this a ...more
Kristina Smith
I picked this book up at the library, mainly because I heard a story about the author on NPR. The story was about her other book, SALVAGE THE BONES - and I requested both books from the library, but this book became available at the library first. Set along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, this book is about twin brothers, Joshua and Christophe, and the very different paths their lives take once they graduate from high school. Abandoned by their mother, Cille, when they were five, and raised by their ...more
Brian TramueL
I enjoyed this story of fraternal twins Christophe & Joshua. Their struggle with adulthood is diverse; raised by their maternal grandmother Ma-mee and watched over by family members whose lives provide a positive influence or a flashing red sign. Their mother, Cille leaves their home on the Mississippi gulf coast for Georgia while the twins are young. Working in retail, she is able to send home funds but that only satisfies a material need, she fails to take care of their emotional needs as ...more
I wish the story was as good as the cover and the title, but alas, I have been disappointed again. For my students, this just won't work, but I'll push it nonetheless and really won't need to because they will pick it up for the cover and because there's a bubble on the front cover that it's a recommended read for Essence readers.

Here are my problems with it (many of which are personal reading preferences): I do not like too much narrative description of the setting. In this case, too much abou
Brotherly Love

Jesmyn Ward has written a hopeful novel. The very vivid descriptions coupled with the deep connections shared by fraternal twins, Joshua and Christophe, makes it feel as if you're apart of the story. WHERE THE LINE BLEEDS, admittedly, is slow at times, but, Ms. Ward's precision of the Mississippi dialogue and the dysfunction of the family keeps the book buoyant. Whereas I believe that some readers will find the book complicated, I believe that Ward has provided readers with a pleas
Where the Line Bleeds is nowhere near the masterpiece that is Salvage the Bones, but I'm glad I got to read Jesmyn Ward's debut novel. I feel I have a better understanding of how Ward has developed as a writer, and I'm continued to be impressed by her ability to create a sense of place. Her southern Mississippi setting is richly rendered through her beautiful prose (and I believe Ward is honestly carrying on the Southern Writer tradition better than anyone writing today; read Salvage the Bones a ...more
this was a really nice story. i'm not usually one for details but i liked the way the author described the food in this story, made me hungry:) the relationship between the brothers and their grandmother was heartwarming. some spelling and grammar mistakes were a little annoying, not in the dialog which was written mostly in southern vernacular, but in the actual context of the book. i did learn lots of new vocabulary words though:)
I love great writing. I love poetic detail. But the reason I couldn't give this book five stars, is that this book goes way over the top with detail, to the point, that you forget what she is writing about. Each page does not need a detailed description of topography and weather. It dilutes the beauty of the writing if every page delves into detail.

But I do recommend this book. Beautiful writing..just needs a little trim.
Celeste Ng
Though this is a devastated landscape, there's so much love and beauty here, and Ward's gorgeous writing lets you see it. The author's love for her characters is so palpable throughout. You can feel her carefully guiding them through their lives, sometimes raising them up, sometimes letting them stumble, but always for a reason, and always with tenderness.
Elsie Klumpner
This writer is extremely skilled. She paints a full and compassionate picture of the lives of several people living in a small town in Mississippi. The central characters are twin young men and their grandmother who raised them. In spite of the difficulties of their bringing up and the obstacles in front of them, they try to live their lives as fully as possible. They are faced with difficult choices and the heavy baggage of parents who chose not to be parents to them. Their options are extremel ...more
This book transported me on a journey to an unfamiliar place. I won't be able to leave until I've read "Salvage the Bones" and "The Men We Reaped".
I really liked this book. There were moments when I realized Ward's writing had transported me to a hot Gulf Coast summer. I don't get to encounter Black young men, like the protagonists of this , as full characters, front and center, in enough of the books I read. I couldn't help but think of Baldwin, Wright, or Ellison. However, this may have more to do with my own limits in what I have chosen to read, than what fiction with African American male main characters is available. Either way I am s ...more
Jamilla Rice
After reading her second novel, Salvage the Bones, I was eager to devour all things Ward that I'd been missing. Thankfully, Where the Line Bleeds was in my local library (shout out to clpgh!) and when I say local, I mean, in my neighborhood. Serendipitous, considering the whole idea of community, (neighborhood, opportunities and choices) present throughout the novel: How do you make a choice when there doesn’t seem to be one? How do you break a cycle when you can’t notice that you’re in one? How ...more
Mocha Girl
Jasmyn Ward's debut Where the Line Bleeds focuses on the delicate familial interrelationship of fraternal twins, Joshua and Christophe DeLisle. Products of teenage love, they are raised by their legally blind maternal grandmother in a small town situated in the Deep South on the impoverished Mississippi Gulf Coast. They are restless men-children with no direction and nothing but time on their hands. The outlook is bleak: high school is behind them, college is never an option, and their rural, ba ...more
The story of twins, Christophe and Joshua in Bois Sauvage Mississippi, just graduated from High School and looking for work. This book focuses on the lives and difficulties of young black men in the deep south. Violence and drugs abound as does strong friendship and family.

Of the three books by Jesmyn Ward I have read, this is the weakest. That said, she is still one of the best writers out there. The books are compelling and the writing superb. Read her.
In Correspondence’s “Archive for November, 2008,” Olga I. Steffan calls William Hogarth “the grandfather of modern sequential art.” If that’s so, then Jesmyn Ward’s his niece…or great grand-daughter…or ninth cousin twice removed: someone who can trace her artistic lineage directly back to this grandfather. Each chapter in Ward’s Where the Line Bleeds is the equivalent of a single drawing in one of Hogarth sequences: a meticulous, precise, hyper-observant allegory datailing the effects of time an ...more
I love this author but wasn't really into this story so much ... I kept waiting for SOMETHING/ANYTHING to happen ... never did.
There was some mild character development, the true climax of the story (we all knew was coming via historical reference) was never discussed.

Maybe the point was the idea of mild character development in a seemingly mindless drawl of details but I, personally, need action.

Still love the author, but wouldn't be one of my top recommendations.
Jesmyn Ward has a way with words. Her books pull you in to a time, a place, a family. Where the Line Bleeds is no exception. She writes in a way that makes you understand her characters, that makes you care about their plight. You do not need to be from poor, rural Southern America to get a taste of it from her books. The flavor leaps off the pages and into your mouth ... and there's no getting rid of the taste once you've tried it.
Cecelia Mcfadden
An unconventional and alluring read about coming of age in a rural patch of the United States that is truly unfamiliar to the non-indigenous. It gives contemporary poverty a new face that is not steeped in statistical rhetoric; a hymn of melancholy for the young black male...but Jesmyn's writing makes the lyrics unforgettable.
Lauren orso
very much a first novel, but i like that it's set in the same place as 'savage bones' and you see some of the same characters. still, ward is so, so talented, and this was ultimately PRETTY GOOD!

A slice of life…so vividly created that I got to inhabit a world I had only "heard" about…that's what writers do…read this novel…

Rider Babbit
Weird sexualized cover for good book about characters and locale rarely seen in literary books, awesome for first book, story felt a little forced at times and I would have liked more
about feelings/ emotions of father and sons but I understand the unresolved nature Of hat relationship as well, I did enjoy this book.
I read the author's second book Savage the Bones first.

It is really interesting to see how the author's writing develops through the two books. She does an amazing job at building her characters and an understanding of this town in Mississippi. I was going to say "paints a picture" of the town, but it was more than that. It is like the town is one of the characters and you feel what it is like to live in this town.

You get this sense even more when you read the second book.

Extremely descriptive of a world I'm only peripherally aware of but the story never really goes anywhere. I backed up to read this one bc I loved Salvage the Bones, but I can't say it brought anything new to the table.
I was blown away by the bio of this author, so I expected more from her work. I wanted more resolution to the story. I felt the only thing I could conclude was no matter what happened, the fraternal twins she describes would always be loyal to each other no matter what. It wasn't enough. I didn't need her to show me that. I will watch for other works by this author.
I was required to read this book for a Women's Lit class, and I couldn't finish it fast enough. It was torture. Ward's prose is beautiful at times, but there is simply NO plot & a cast of stereotypical characters. I'll sum it up for you: weed, basketball, hair braiding, & endless, boring description. Don't waste your time.
I really wanted to love this novel, given how much I adore "Salvage the Bones". I wasn't very held by the story, but really love the author's writing. Perhaps this deserves a 3.5 out 5. It's an intersting story about a pair of twins as their lives go in different directions and the events that catapult them back together.
Jesmyn Ward writes really well-- she has great attention to detail and makes her characters, their actions, and their landscape very easy to imagine. The lifestyle and language of her characters stand in sharp contrast to her beautiful writing, making a very interesting and complex contrast.
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Jesmyn Ward is the author of Where the Line Bleeds, Salvage the Bones, and Men We Reaped. She is a former Stegner Fellow (Stanford University) and Grisham Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi. She is an associate professor of Creative Writing at Tulane University.

Her work has appeared in BOMB, A Public Space and The Oxford American.
More about Jesmyn Ward...
Salvage the Bones Men We Reaped Cattle Haul (Electric Literature's Recommended Reading Book 1)

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“Christophe peeled the shrimp slowly and carefully: that was his way around her, and it was the exact opposite of his usual demeanor. She knew it for what it was: love.” 2 likes
“Love don't just go away like that, Cille," Sandman said.
"It do.”
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