Cheryl's Reviews > Salvage the Bones

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
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really liked it
bookshelves: america, espresso, southern-groove, fiction

I couldn't dull the edges and fall in love with my characters and spare them. Life doesn't spare us. -Jesmyn Ward

The words in this novel are wounds with fragile scabs. This story is the beat of a wounded girl's heart; it bleeds on the page and hurts to read. These words are tears that have not been shed, so they build up on the inside and fill up buckets of anguish:

I learned how to cry so that almost no tears leaked out of my eyes, so that I swallowed the hot salty water of them and felt them running down my throat.




Hurricane Katrina is twelve days away. Enter The Pit, a clearing of trailer homes in the coastal town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi. Junk cars, used appliances, a misplaced RV, and fighting pit bulls. Hear from Esch, a motherless child who searches for love in sex, a child with a drunk and physically abusive father, a girl child who lives with three brothers in a place as dark as night, with some semblance of love to shine through.

Here, love is distorted, perception skewed. The rest of the world exists on the other side of The Pit, where it averts its face. Hurricane Katrina knows this. She targets them with her fighting winds, these downtrodden survivors, but in them she meets her match. For survivors are powerless but strong. And in The Pit, these survivors know all about fighting back. They fight to live, fight to love; maybe this is what the book is about - the unrelenting will to survive, to fight despite the obstacle. Even in the middle of scenes that made me cringe, I saw Struggle stand bold and brave (especially through the character Skeet). These words feel tender yet tough; gritty yet gentle. And love exists here, askew and blemished, still, it exists.
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Reading Progress

December 27, 2013 – Shelved
February 9, 2017 – Started Reading
February 12, 2017 –
page 100
38.76% "Light diffuses through the room. I see Manny's profile, his glass-burned side, and then he stops fumbling and turns to us and his face is dark again. I want him to grip my hand like he grips the dark beams over his head, to walk with me out of the shed and away from the Pit. To help me bear the sun."
February 14, 2017 –
page 201
77.91% "Sometimes I wonder if Junior remembers anything, or if his head is like a colander, and the memories of who bottle-fed him, who licked his tears, who mothered him, squeeze through the metal like water to run down the drain, and only leave the present day, his sand holes, his shirtless bird chest...his present washed clean of memory like vegetables washed clean of the dirt they grow in."
February 15, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-18 of 18 (18 new)

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message 1: by Dolors (new)

Dolors Reviews like this make me painfully aware of the sheltered life a few of us have the fortune to lead. Poverty and random abuse is right next door, and we seem fixated on ignoring it. I am not sure I am at the proper place to read this right now, but your words, tender and cutting at once, reached where they had to, Cheryl. Powerful review, from start to finish.


message 2: by Florencia (new)

Florencia Your first paragraph left me speechless, and I could never describe what I felt once I finished reading this review, in which a heart-rending portrait is illustrated so poignantly, so beautifully. Wonderful, Cheryl.


message 3: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam Beautiful review, Cheryl! I also really loved this read, gorgeous writing though occasionally very tough to engage with. I'm looking forward to reading Ward's next book Sing, Unburied, Sing.


Cheryl Dolors wrote: "Reviews like this make me painfully aware of the sheltered life a few of us have the fortune to lead. Poverty and random abuse is right next door, and we seem fixated on ignoring it. I am not sure ..."

Thanks, Dolors :) It's as if you enter another world in this book. I had it on my shelf for a while (view spoiler) before reading it. It is a book of grit, for sure, and probably should be read only when you're in the proper place for it. But it contains many of those elements that forces its reader to contemplate the world.


Cheryl Florencia wrote: "Your first paragraph left me speechless, and I could never describe what I felt once I finished reading this review, in which a heart-rending portrait is illustrated so poignantly, so beautifully. ..."

What a warm cup of tea to drink from you, Florencia. Thank you :) The story itself was heart-rending for me, (view spoiler) so if I displayed a tiny bit of that stirring mood, I feel honored.


Natalie Richards A wonderfully powerful review.


Cheryl Sam, thanks for the letting me know of her upcoming book. I have Men We Reaped also slated to read at some point. Like you, I found the writing exquisite, particularly the descriptive parts. I'm glad we both loved this. I appreciate you dropping in with the kind words.


Cheryl Natalie, I see you've read book also. Thanks for these words.


Raul Bimenyimana Great review and the quote captures the book so well, some parts of the book were among the most painful I ever read.


message 10: by Cheryl (last edited Feb 18, 2017 08:25PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cheryl Raul wrote: "Great review and the quote captures the book so well, some parts of the book were among the most painful I ever read."

Thanks, Raul. Good to see another reader of this chime in. It was painful beauty, this book. By the way, I love your "women writers rock" shelf :)


message 11: by Diane (new)

Diane Barnes Your review reminds me that I have this one on my shelf and need to read it. Very nice job, emotional reviews are the best kind.


message 12: by Deanna (new)

Deanna I'm so glad your review popped up on my feed! My notifications/feed always seemed to be messed up in some way.
Wonderful, heartfelt review, Cheryl.


message 13: by Seemita (new)

Seemita For survivors are powerless but strong.

Thank you for this review, Cheryl; it speaks to me at many levels. Why often do we take things for granted? Why do we allow our biases to seep in before amble evidence is sampled before judging someone? What makes us follow the herd when our hearts run otherwise apace? If only we paused and listened to the trickling of tears that lay cemented under formidable resolve, as you so beautifully etched in your opening para. Thank you again.


Cheryl Diane wrote: "Your review reminds me that I have this one on my shelf and need to read it. Very nice job, emotional reviews are the best kind."

Thanks so much, Diane. I think you will like how the novel moves to the beat of the South.


Cheryl Deanna wrote: "I'm so glad your review popped up on my feed! My notifications/feed always seemed to be messed up in some way.
Wonderful, heartfelt review, Cheryl."


My feed is the same way, Deanna. And it does't help when so many older reviews are being refreshed and I don't get to see friends' reviews clearly. thanks for reading and commenting.


Cheryl Seemita wrote: "If only we paused and listened to the trickling of tears that lay cemented under formidable resolve"

Thank you for this beautiful response, Seemita. Your words tell me you felt the heartbeat of each word, the ache in each phrase. I'm glad these thoughts found you.


message 17: by Agnieszka (new) - added it

Agnieszka Cheryl, your words have true power. Great and heartfelt review !


Cheryl Agnieszka wrote: "Cheryl, your words have true power. Great and heartfelt review !"

How nice - thanks, Agnieszka :-)


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