JanB 's Reviews > Salvage the Bones

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
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it was amazing

4.5 stars.

Poignant and powerful, the story is narrated by fourteen-year-old Esche, who lives in Mississippi with her three brothers and father. Their mother died in childbirth, and the family is struggling both financially and emotionally. They survive the only way they know how. Many of the ways are heartbreaking and would be easy to judge: raising pit bulls, dog fighting, a young teenager looking for love in all the wrong places with all the wrong people, and a father who drinks and is largely absent.

But Jesmyn’s command of the language and poetic prose allowed me a peek into their hearts and minds and I felt nothing but compassion. The touching love and strong bond between Esche's brother, Skeetah, and his dog, China, and the bond and love between the siblings were expressed beautifully. Quite simply, the author touched my heart and I was brought to tears more than once.

Amidst the poverty and the grief, a very real danger is on its way: Hurricane Katrina. The book covers the 12 days leading up to the storm. I could feel the unrelenting heat and humidity of Mississippi, and I felt the terror of the storm. Ward has an uncanny ability to put her reader in the midst of the action and feel what her characters feel. The chapters when Katrina makes landfall are riveting. The author and her family survived Katrina, so she writes with authenticity on the subject. I appreciated the afterward where she talks of her experience.

The book is extremely gritty and some parts were difficult to read, especially the dog fighting (I skimmed those pages). But in the midst of the ugliness is beauty in the love and bond between the siblings, and the bond between Skeetah and his dog. Beauty and ugliness can coexist.

No review I write could possibly do justice to this book. The characters took hold of my heart and wouldn’t let go. With a heavy heart, I was left contemplating their plight for days after I turned the last page. What is salvaged after such devastation? This family had so little in terms of material possessions, and they are far from the poor but noble long-suffering family often depicted in literature, but they do have their love and devotion to one another, imperfect though it is. Thankfully, the book ended on a hopeful note.

* The gritty scenes with dog fighting were difficult but important for the plot. Normally this would have been enough for me to DNF, but I skimmed those pages and I was rewarded for my efforts.
* I enjoyed reading this with the traveling sisters group. A few had to abandon it early due to the gritty scenes but a few of us hung in till the end and had an interesting discussion. For their blog and reviews of this and other books please visit https://twosisterslostinacoulee.com
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Reading Progress

March 6, 2018 – Started Reading
March 6, 2018 – Shelved
March 11, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-20 of 20 (20 new)

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message 1: by Miriam (new)

Miriam Smith Glad you enjoyed it Jan 😊


JanB Miriam wrote: "Glad you enjoyed it Jan 😊"

Thanks Miriam, it was a tough read in a few places, but I loved it.


message 3: by Jaline (new) - added it

Jaline Jan, your review was riveting - and I absolutely think you did justice to this book with your review. I haven't read it yet, but I do have it and your excellent review has me wanting to push it up my list, so mission accomplished! :)


Angela M Jan, fantastic! Read this a while ago and felt much the same as you .


message 5: by Alecia (new)

Alecia What a great review, Jan! It's fantastic when a book touches you this way. I will keep this on my radar.


Melanie Excellent review Jan! I am looking forward to reading along with you gals again.


message 7: by Kendall (new)

Kendall Wow excellent review Jan!!!


Kaceey - Traveling Sister Wonderful review Jan!!


Norma * Traveling Sister Awesome review, Jan! I'm so happy that you enjoyed this book! I'm still plugging along.....I feel bad! ;-)


JanB Jaline wrote: "Jan, your review was riveting - and I absolutely think you did justice to this book with your review. I haven't read it yet, but I do have it and your excellent review has me wanting to push it up ..."

Janine, you are so sweet...what a kind thing to say! I hope it makes on your spreadsheet this year! I would love to hear your thoughts 😊


JanB Angela M wrote: "Jan, fantastic! Read this a while ago and felt much the same as you ."

Thank you Angela, I'm so glad you loved this book too!!


JanB Alecia wrote: "What a great review, Jan! It's fantastic when a book touches you this way. I will keep this on my radar."

Alecia, thank you! This author really deeply touches me...I hope you love it if you get around to it :-)


JanB Melanie wrote: "Excellent review Jan! I am looking forward to reading along with you gals again."

Thanks Melanie, it's such a great group to read with 💕


JanB Kendall wrote: "Wow excellent review Jan!!!"

Thanks Kendall!


JanB Kaceey wrote: "Wonderful review Jan!!"

Kaceey, thank you so much!


JanB Norma wrote: "Awesome review, Jan! I'm so happy that you enjoyed this book! I'm still plugging along.....I feel bad! ;-)"

Thanks Norma...and haha....and don't feel bad! I'm behind on my reading too! I hope you can finish and you love it!


message 17: by Victoria (new)

Victoria Splendid and gripping review, such heartfelt words, Jan.


JanB Victoria wrote: "Splendid and gripping review, such heartfelt words, Jan."

Thank you so much Victoria! I appreciate your comment so much :-)


Carol Fantastic review! I just finished it and feel the same way but wouldn't have been able to express it as well. I read Sing, Unburied Sing too. I will read everything she writes. What a gift she has. I don't even feel like I'm reading. I feel like I'm there. We should all read these stories to understand and be moved to act.


message 20: by JanB (last edited Oct 30, 2018 09:03PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

JanB Carol wrote: "Fantastic review! I just finished it and feel the same way but wouldn't have been able to express it as well. I read Sing, Unburied Sing too. I will read everything she writes. What a gift she has...."

Carol, thank you! I loved Sing, Unburied, Sing too. It destroyed me - in a good way - and it took me days to get over it. I will read anything she writes too. Her writing is so powerful.


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