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Where the Line Bleeds

(Bois Sauvage #3)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  3,046 ratings  ·  415 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 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, but Christophe has less luck: Unable to find a job, and desper ...more
Paperback, 230 pages
Published November 1st 2008 by Agate Bolden (first published December 1st 2006)
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Erika Anderson Yes. I have also read _Sing, Unburied, Sing_, and they are totally independent books set in the same town.

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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
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
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
Jul 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I'm sorry to say I found this novel boring.

I absolutely loved this author's Sing, Unburied, Sing but unfortunately, though penned in Jesmyn Ward's breathtakingly beautiful prose, I couldn't connect with the main characters.

They are two twin boys, just graduated from high school, trying to find jobs. One does, the other starts selling drugs. I didn't relate to the boys at all. I found it boring to hang out with them and their friends, drinking and smoking weed.... which was all the freaking tim
4.5 stars
Where the Line Bleeds by Jesmyn Ward was chosen as Book of the Month for April and it meets several challenges for a Goodreads bookclub. Do not judge this book by the cover. This is the first book written by this author that I have read, and I want to read more. The writing is exquisite!
"After the rain fell away in fits, after it eased up and the worst of it withdrew out over the gulf like a woman gathering her coat and leaving a room, Christophe drove them home." Page 131
"Cille grippe
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
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. ...more
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
Jenni Ogden
Apr 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jerry Pogan
Dec 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Taylor Knight
I'm so surprised by how much I really enjoyed this book.
It tells such a raw, honest story and I couldn't help but become invested from the first chapter. The writing is so great and the author is so talented. I felt the plot was very authentic and didn't shy away from being gritty. The plot itself wasn't action packed but I didn't think it was boring or unbearably slow. It was very engaging and I read the entire book in just a one sitting.
I would guess that with being a twin means struggling with the tension between closeness and separation, intimacy and betrayal, good and bad – and Jesmyn Ward seems to agree. Where the Line Bleeds starts out shortly before Christophe and Joshua's high school graduation, with them being tight as tight can be:

Christophe squinted at Joshua, at the face that was his own, but not, full lips, a jutting round nose, and skin the color of the shallows of the water below that named them twins. If he leane
Jan 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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 a mo ...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
Jul 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Review coming soon to the blog. | ...more
Erika Schoeps
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Joshua and Christophe are young black men graduating from high school in rural Mississippi. They're excited to be done with school; their disabled grandmother, blind from diabetes (Mamee) watches them cross the stage. Their mother isn't there at graduation time. She's been gone since the boys were young, earning money to send back to them while always remaining emotionally absent and unrepentant that she left. Their father's an addict who circles in and out of time, always on the fringes of thei ...more
Kristina Smith
Oct 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: library-reads
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
Shelves: adult, black, 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
Mrs. Danvers
Apr 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I am going to admit two things right off the top of the review:

1. I think Jesmyn Ward is a genius, one of the very few contemporary writers I would give this designation to.
2. Because of this, it is difficult for me to be very objective about Where the Line Bleeds.

I enjoyed this book a lot, but as a debut novel it is, perforce, not as accomplished as either Sing, Unburied, Sing or Salvage the Bones, both of which are among the very best novels of the past decade. Salvage the Bones, in particular
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
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.
Donna Davis
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Gisela Hafezparast
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
This is the second book I have read from this author, who must be one of the most gifted American writers around. Moreover, she clearly understands not only her subject area of Mississippi and the lives of the poorer black population, but also understand the way people live there and what there problems are.

When you first meet the book's most important protagonists, two 18 year old boys about to graduate the next day you are a bit confused as Jesmyn switches constantly between the two boys, but
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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

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