Ellie's Reviews > Salvage the Bones

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
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really liked it
bookshelves: 2017indchallenge, family, fiction

Esch is a 15 year old girl, poor and black, living in Mississippi with her father and three brothers. Her mother's death is an absence that still hurts. Maybe that's why Esch has sex with so many different boys. But now she is in love with a boy that is someone else's boyfriend. And she is pregnant.

This is also a story about China, a pit bull that Esch's brother Skeetah loves with a passion. Although he fights her against other dogs, China has his heart.

A hurricane is coming. They've lived through other hurricanes but this will be the worst; this is Hurricane Katrina.

This is a story about mothers. Mothers absent, reluctant, fierce. China has just given birth and cannot be trusted not to kill her own babies. Esch, of course, is pregnant and afraid. Her mother who protected and cared for her is gone. Esch is obsessed with Medea, that mother who murdered her own babies to avenge herself for her lover's betrayal.

And then there is the biggest mother of all: Katrina, destroying everything in her path.

This is a gripping book. I had to read fast through the dog fights, they were unbearable. But this family, this storm, was so powerful I could not stop reading despite the pain and often grim reality of their life.

At the end of the book, I felt the awe that comes from reading an amazing story. It reminded me of Hurricane Katrina. I think of the man I know who was just a few weeks in this country, left homeless, rescued by a New York priest after having lost everything. I think of how the rest of us forget these tragedies after a while, go on to the next disaster, but for the people who survived it must be a never-ending presence in their lives.

Jesmyn Ward survived Hurricane Katrina. I read that when her family appealed to others for help, they were turned away. In this story, no one is turned away. There is a great tenderness in this book that keeps it from becoming overwhelmingly depressing.

If I have any criticisms, it is that the book is a little over rich in images, similes, metaphors. Many of them are beautiful, but sometimes it is a little too much. However, for the most part, I loved the writing-conveying the lushness of a Southern summer and the brutality of a hurricane. As well as the love, frustrated and fulfilled these people have for each other, just as Skeetah's love for his dog seems to bring to life the meaning of love, unsentimental but overwhelming.

I can't seem to stop talking about this so I will. Obviously, I think this is a book everyone should read. As a reminder of Katrina and for its own special beauty.
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Reading Progress

January 14, 2014 – Shelved
January 14, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
October 17, 2015 – Shelved as: interested-in
September 16, 2017 – Started Reading
September 16, 2017 –
page 15
September 17, 2017 –
page 176
61.11% "Riveting. Despite the dog fighting which I could hardly bear to read. Still, a powerful book so far."
September 17, 2017 – Shelved as: 2017indchallenge
September 17, 2017 – Shelved as: family
September 17, 2017 – Shelved as: fiction
September 17, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-7 of 7 (7 new)

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message 1: by Candi (new) - added it

Candi A great review, Ellie. I have this one on my list; it does sound quite good.

message 2: by Ellie (last edited Sep 17, 2017 06:38PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ellie Candi wrote: "A great review, Ellie. I have this one on my list; it does sound quite good."

Thanks Candi. I've owned it for a while but in reading the reviews of her new book (Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel) I finally decided to read it. For some reason I thought it was a southern gothic but not even.

Now I want to read her new book.

Angela M Terrific review, Ellie . I read this quite a while ago before I wrote reviews but your review reminded me why I gave it 5 stars . I highly recommend Sing, Unburied, Sing.

Ellie Thanks- and thanks for the recommendation!

message 5: by Sera (new) - added it

Sera Nice review, Ellie. I completely agree with the graphic imagery of the book. I couldn't get through it. It was too much for me.

Ellie Sera wrote: "Nice review, Ellie. I completely agree with the graphic imagery of the book. I couldn't get through it. It was too much for me."

Usually I couldn't have either but I found the story too compelling to stop. I have to admit I didn't always read everything thoroughly.

message 7: by Marialyce (new) - added it

Marialyce Wonderful review and a book I will definitely add to my TBR list.

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