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Bastard Out of Carolina
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Group Reads > Bastard Out Of Carolina Discussion! (May/June 2014)

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Taylor (seffietay) The last couple months around here have been bonkers-town with all the book selections. So this month we've just got one glorious book on deck for May and June; Bastard Out Of Carolina. Trigger warnings for rape and child abuse, but this is a really well told story with very engaging characters. Let's talk about it!

Taylor (seffietay) Sooooo THIS BOOK. I loved so many things about it, and raged about many others. Has anyone else read it and do they have some feels they want to share?

Alexa (AlexaNC) | 1256 comments Mod
Sorry, I'm late! This is next on my pile!

Alexa (AlexaNC) | 1256 comments Mod
This is a really hard book to read! I've read about the first 60 pages and I'm already scared to go on. It's interesting how much more horrific this is than the somewhat similar The Glass Castle. You would think an actual memoir would be more powerful than a novel, but the opposite is true. Perhaps it is because with the memoir you already know that the author has survived in reasonable condition, or perhaps it is just that this is much better written. (Or perhaps with fiction the author has the freedom to shift things around to make a true piece of art, with no need to be true to actual facts - but by doing so it comes across as being more true to the human condition.)

Alexa (AlexaNC) | 1256 comments Mod
This is really interesting! On the one hand parts of it are quite horrifying, but then there is the joyful warmth of her extended family. I'm finding the parallels with The Glass Castle to be quite interesting (which I enjoyed) but this is soooo much better written!

Taylor (seffietay) There are definitely parallels between BOOC and TGC. They are written soooo differently though. I love that there are so many ways to tell a story! I read BOOC a while ago but remember being fairly shocked at how (what I would consider) highly sexual it was. Bone's journey through her childhood was intense. I have read that this, being Dorothy's first novel, was semi-autobiographical, which makes it feel even more intense.

Alexa (AlexaNC) | 1256 comments Mod
Yes, I've been wondering how autobiographical it might be, but I haven't gone looking yet for any details. On the copyright page it claims to be a "work of fiction." One of the things that really bugged me about Reading Lolita in Tehran was that she clearly stated her characters were composites of the actual people she knew. This made it really difficult for me to connect with them; none of them felt quite real - or I kept wondering what was the reality behind the story. Then with The Glass Castle there was a certain distance between the author and her characters, as how can there not be when you are telling the story of actual people. But with this, there is an immediacy, a reality, that I suspect can more easily come with a work of art than a dry re-telling of events. Or maybe it has nothing to do with a memoir vs. a somewhat-altered memoir vs. an autobiography pretending to be a novel, but rather everything to do with the author's skills. And for all I know 95% of it could be her imagination. It's really powerful!

Alexa (AlexaNC) | 1256 comments Mod
And yes, her frank depiction of the sexuality of children can certainly be disturbing! The most difficult part is wondering how much is the natural journey of a girl discovering her body, and how much is the result of abuse. I think the author does a brilliant job of leaving this question kind of ambiguous; I would say the main character isn't at all sure herself.

Alexa (AlexaNC) | 1256 comments Mod
I just finished this! I am not at all sure I like the ending! What happens next? Did anyone else think this was kind of like leaving her hanging off the edge of a cliff? What are we supposed to imagine the rest of her life like?

Alexa (AlexaNC) | 1256 comments Mod
I am also very ambivalent about the story her aunt tells at the end. As advice for an adult it is very important, but is it meant to also be advice for a child?

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