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Where the Line Bleeds

(Bois Sauvage #3)

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  1,620 ratings  ·  243 reviews
The first novel from National Book Award winner and author of Sing, Unburied, Sing Jesmyn Ward, a timeless Southern fable of brotherly love and familial conflict—“a lyrical yet clear-eyed portrait of a rural South and an African-American reality that are rarely depicted” (The Boston Globe).

Where the Line Bleeds is Jesmyn Ward’s gorgeous first novel and the first of three n
Kindle Edition, 240 pages
Published January 16th 2018 by Scribner (first published December 1st 2006)
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3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,620 ratings  ·  243 reviews

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Angela M
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"THE RIVER WAS YOUNG AND SMALL . AT ITS START IT SEEPED FROM the red clay earth in the piney woods of Southern Mississippi, and then wound its way, brown and slow, over a bed of tiny gray and ochre pebbles through the pines, shallow as a hand, deep as three men standing, to the sandy green lowlands of the gulf of Mexico. It slithered itself along, wide and narrow, crossed by the small wood and concrete bridges, lined by thin slivers of white beach, in and out of the trees, before it divided itse ...more
Lala BooksandLala
A bit too meandering for me, but a genuine, painful look at the fallout and perseverance of 2 brothers in the face of adversity.
Diane S ☔
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A small town on the Mississippi Gulf coast, twins Christophe and Joshua are set to graduate high school. Raised by their grandmother after their mother left and their father succumbed to the lure of drugs, they want only to get jobs so they can help make her life easier. Joshua gets a back breaking job on the docks, but Christophe gets no call backs. In an effort to make money he turns to illegal activities. This causes a big division between the close relationship the twins had, and a hardship ...more
Dec 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Christophe and Joshua are twin brothers living in Bois Sauvage, along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. At the beginning of the book they are preparing to graduate from high school. They are living with their Ma-Mee (Maternal Grandmother) who has raised them since they were children. Their Mother floats in and out of their lives but Ma-Mee is their constant. Upon graduation, the brothers attempt to find jobs while getting high, flirting with girls, getting their hair braided and playing basketball. Th ...more
Edward Lorn
Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*picks jaw up off the floor and collects himself*

I am in absolute awe of Jesmyn Ward. Her prose sings. Hers is the most beautiful writing I've come across. Period. The depth and breadth of emotion on display is uncanny. I read this one slowly, 239 pages over the course of the week, and cherished every single word. If there is a better writer working today, I have not read them. How well Ward gets her message across, and the economy of words she uses, left me perplexed at her talents.

The story is
Jun 23, 2018 rated it liked it
This is the author's first novel and it was republished in 2018. While I liked this book, I much preferred her later book "Sing, Unburied, Sing". The story is set in rural Bois Sauvage, Mississippi during the summer of the high school graduation of twins Joshua and Christophe, who were raised by their diabetic and blind grandmother. Their feckless parents, Cille and Samuel, had only sporadic contact with the boys. Joshua manages to find a physically demanding job working on the docks. Christophe ...more
Sharon Metcalf
4.5 stars
Jesmyn Ward cast a spell over me with her writing. A spell that transported me to Bois Sauvage near New Orleans, helped me inhabit the minds and bodies of her characters so I could see, feel, smell and experience everything they did. The writing was powerful yet gentle. Like butter, her words were soft and smooth, yet capable of sizzling under heat, of scorching the skin with its touch. And just like butter on a chunk a fresh bread, her words took the everday and turned them into someth
Jenni Ogden
Apr 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
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.
Oct 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jerry Pogan
Dec 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! Jesmyn Ward, what a writer. First of all, I had a difficult time moving past the opening paragraph because it was so beautifully written that I kept going back and rereading it. Once I got past it, however, I enjoyed the rest of the book just as much. This is the story of a pair of twins who are trying to navigate life after high school in the poverty stricken Gulf Coast Mississippi. They have been raised by their Grandmother after being abandoned by their mother and father. Wards writing i ...more
Jenna Bookish
This was my second book by Jesmyn Ward. I picked it up after really enjoying Sing, Unburied, Sing when I read it with my book club. I had fallen in love with Ward's style when I read that book. Where the Line Bleeds fell a little bit flat in comparison. 

Set in the rural south, Where the Line Bleeds has a similar feel to Sing, Unburied, Sing. The story follows twin brothers living in Bois Sauvage, Mississippi. Christophe and Joshua are struggling to find their footing after high school graduation
Jan 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Stephanie (aka WW)
(4.5 stars)

It’s magic when a book transports you to a place you’d never have access to otherwise. This book has that magic. It’s not a pretty location and or a comfortable situation, but it feels real. Christophe and Joshua are twins living in impoverished Mississippi with their Grandmother. Their mother left them when they were young and only visits once in a blue moon. Their father is a junkie who shows up sometimes, but is not welcome. The conflict happens after the two boys graduate high sch
Isabelle E
Review coming soon to the blog. |
Brian TramueL
Jan 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Nov 23, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black, adult, male, historical
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
Advance Reading Copy disclosure:
I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This is the story of twin boys growing up in rural southern Mississippi. Joshua and Christophe are being raised by their blind grandmother. Their mother is in an out a picture. The story starts on the day of their high school graduation. Times are tough and it’s very difficult for them to find jobs after graduat
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a GoodRead. This is the story I liked the most by Ward. Only things I did not like about her reads, they are too similar in theme and utilizing the same phrases in all the reads but otherwise the reads are good. I really liked the appearance of a few characters from one of the other reads.
Dec 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
3.5 rounded up

A poignant tale about twin brothers in the deep south whose lives take very different directions. If you liked either of Ward's other novels you're bound to find something to enjoy here.
Mrs. Danvers
It always makes me so happy to think about how young Jesmyn Ward is, since that means she's got a lot of books left in her. She brings her characters and their environments vividly to life.
Donna Davis
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those that love excellent fiction.
Ward is a force to be reckoned with, a literary power house whose books everyone should read. I read the third book in this trilogy, the National Book Award winning Sing, Unburied, Sing last summer, and then I knew I had to read everything else she had ever written. When I saw that this title, the first in the same trilogy, was being released again and that review copies were available, it seemed like Christmas. Many thanks to Net Galley and Scribner. This book was released again last week and i ...more
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Twins, graduating from high school, head out into the world with certain expectations. Joshua gets a job doing hard labor on the docks. Meanwhile Christophe isn't hired there or anywhere and ends up falling into selling pot. But that is just a brief outline of what is happening in this beautifully written book. Within the story line we learn about how both their parents independently abandoned them, for drugs or a new life in a new city with opportunity. We learn about how their grandmother rais ...more
Rose Peterson
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I kept pushing this book back on my to-read list as not to exhaust Jesmyn Ward's body of work with too much time before her next release, but the vivid descriptions of Louisiana were too compelling to resist. While this book was packed with the beautiful language that is characteristic of Ward, it revealed itself as her first novel in that it was sometimes overburdened with description in a way her other writing isn't. The beginning, in particular, felt laborious at times. Once the narrative fou ...more
Westminster Library
Set in post-Katrina Mississippi Gulf Coast, this novel details the divergent paths taken by two twin brothers to earn money after they leave high school and have few prospects. The boys were raised by their grandfather after their mother left them in her care; their father is unreliable and has his own issues to resolve. The author is from the area and her familiarity with the slang and the culture of the area lend a very realistic tone to the book.

Find Where the Line Bleeds at the Westminster
Sep 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had already owned two unread Jesmyn Ward novels. Before reading her other two I decided to read her debut novel. This is an enjoyable work that focuses on African-American life in rural coastal Mississippi. This is a novel that needed to be written. Rarely does a writer draw attention to an aspect of my culture, Gulf Coast Creole. Though I’m from New Orleans, fictional Bois Sauvage is a stone’s throw away. I know these folk from afar. We talk somewhat the same, we eat the same food, and we are ...more
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is Jesmyn Ward's first book, re-released now that she is much more well-known than before, including two National Book Awards. This is her third trip to Bois Sauvage, modeled after her Mississippi home town, so it's a familiar culture by now if you've read her other work.

Ward creates such strong vivid characters, and such a deep emotional life for them. While her subject matter is intense and often hard to take in, you still root for her characters to triumph, as she has a way of making th
Doctor Moss
I finally got to Jesmyn Ward’s first novel. Ward is drawn to stories of coming of age in the rural South. Her most recent novel, Sing Unburied Sing, gave us Jojo, a thirteen year old boy, thrown into adult roles and responsibilities, and preparation by trial. Her characters have to earn adulthood, and the odds aren’t usually all that good.

In Where the Line Bleeds, it’s the twins, Joshua and Christophe. They’ve just graduated from high school, an accomplishment in their circumstances, and you fee
Oct 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jesmyn Ward’s hard-hitting novels highlight the plight of poor southern African-American families, struggling to lead a worthwhile life in rural Mississippi. In this one twin brothers Joshua and Christophe have been raised by their nearly blind grandmother after their worthless father abandoned the family and their mother moved away to work, effectively abandoning the boys as well. As the novel opens they are preparing to graduate high school but their future is far from assured. They struggle t ...more
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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.

Other books in the series

Bois Sauvage (3 books)
  • Salvage the Bones
  • Sing, Unburied, Sing
“Love don't just go away like that, Cille," Sandman said.
"It do.”
“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
More quotes…