Paromjit's Reviews > Salvage the Bones

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
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it was amazing
bookshelves: literary-fiction, netgalley, family-drama
Read 2 times. Last read March 24, 2018 to April 18, 2018.

The outstanding writing abilities of Jesamyn Ward are indisputable in this emotionally visceral powerhouse of a novel, epic in scope, pitching the indomitable spirit of a family to survive, against all the odds, with the destructive and devastating monster of nature that is Hurricane Katrina, wreaking havoc on the Mississipi coastal town of Bois Sauvage. Esch is the black 14 year old narrator, pregnant, the only girl surroundes by males. Mother died in childbirth, and father is a hard drinking man, often absent from family life. They are a family that has lived generations in poverty and squalor, residing in a junkyard. The narrative spans twelve days, in which Ward establishes the gritty and brutal circumstances of the family and its characters, attempting to build up supplies and water, limited by the options open to them, and the coming of and aftermath of Katrina.

Esch has been enjoying sex for a while, driven by her search for love, but is drawn to one person in particular. Her brother, Skeetah is trying to keep alive the puppies of his pitbull, China, but failing. Randall has dreams of basketball as his path out of poverty, and Junior has no memories of his mother. There are harrowing depictions of dogfights which are desperately hard to stomach. Amidst this dysfunctional family, conflict is rife amongst the siblings. It is abundantly clear that they are ill equipped for Katrina, but their love for each other binds them together as a force of nature in its own right as they look out for each other in their battle to survive. It is this that provides a glimmer of hope in what would otherwise be a relentlessly bleak if atmospheric picture of marginalised poor black communities, with nowhere else to go, viewed as of little consequence by the rest of society, feared and abandoned, and left to fend for themselves.

Without doubt, this is often a troubling, brutal and challenging read, but the compelling and authentic force driving the narrative makes reading it an infinitely rewarding experience. The phenomenal quality of the vibrant, poetic and lyrical prose had me feeling as if I was there with the Batiste family, living precariously, and facing all its travails. Ward gives us richly detailed descriptions, deploying powerful imagery and creates characters that have the reader emotionally invested in the book, I was rooting for Esch all the way. This is a brilliant and uncompromising read which has indelibly imprinted itself on my mind and my imagination, although I accept this novel might not be for everyone. Highly recommended! Many thanks to Bloomsbury for an ARC.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
March 24, 2018 – Started Reading
March 24, 2018 – Shelved
April 18, 2018 – Shelved as: literary-fiction
April 18, 2018 – Shelved as: netgalley
April 18, 2018 – Shelved as: family-drama
April 18, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-17 of 17 (17 new)

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Angela M Fantastic review, Paromjit!


message 2: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Nice review!


message 3: by Miriam (new)

Miriam Smith Fab review Paromjit 😊


message 4: by Maureen (new)

Maureen Fantastic review Paromjit😄


message 5: by Amber (new)

Amber Myott Think I’ve GOT to add this one !


Paromjit Thank you all for absolutely amazing comments, Angela, Lisa, Miriam, Maureen and Amber. This is just such an astonishingly wonderful novel, and Amber, I so hope you get to read this. :) xoxoox


message 7: by Judy (new)

Judy Excellent review Paromjit! I've enjoyed reading Jessmyn Ward. Good to hear this was a 5-star read for you.


message 8: by Diane (new)

Diane Excellent review, Paromjit! :)


message 9: by Mike (new)

Mike Powerful stuff, Paromjit. Terrific review!!


message 10: by Cheri (new) - added it

Cheri Fantastic review, Paromjit, just wonderful. I'm really looking forward to being able to squeeze this one in someday (hopefully soon!)


message 11: by Deanna (new)

Deanna Awesome review!!!


message 12: by Licha (new)

Licha Another great review, Paromjit. What can I say? I adore your reviews.


message 13: by Julie (new)

Julie Outstanding review, Paromjit!!


Pattie Beautiful review, Paromjit!


Paromjit Thank you all for taking the time to write your wonderful comments, Judy, Diane, Mike, Cheri, Deanna, Licha, Julie and Pattie. Cheri, I think you will really enjoy reading this, and Licha, you are so wonderfully generous as ever. :) xoxox


message 16: by Mary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mary Excellent review. I just finished the book after having read Sing, Unburied, Sing, and am in love with Jesamyn Ward’s lyrical prose. Katrina as Medea, the avenging mother of all storms! Just phenomenal. As I read the book I thought of the song “Motherless Children,” and grew to love the entire Batiste family — who struggle mightily but still love and support one another.


Paromjit Mary wrote: "Excellent review. I just finished the book after having read Sing, Unburied, Sing, and am in love with Jesamyn Ward’s lyrical prose. Katrina as Medea, the avenging mother of all storms! Just phenom..."

Thank you, Mary....and loved your comments on this wonderful book so much. :)


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