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Salvage the Bones

by

Salvage the Bones Cover

ISBN13: 9781608196265
ISBN10: 1608196267
All Product Details

 

Awards

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Winner of the 2011 National Book Award

A hurricane is building over the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the coastal town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, and Esch's father is growing concerned. A hard drinker, largely absent, he doesn't show concern for much else. Esch and her three brothers are stocking food, but there isn't much to save. Lately, Esch can't keep down what food she gets; she's fourteen and pregnant. Her brother Skeetah is sneaking scraps for his prized pitbull's new litter, dying one by one in the dirt. Meanwhile, brothers Randall and Junior try to stake their claim in a family long on child's play and short on parenting.

As the twelve days that make up the novel's framework yield to their dramatic conclusion, this unforgettable family-motherless children sacrificing for one another as they can, protecting and nurturing where love is scarce-pulls itself up to face another day. A big-hearted novel about familial love and community against all odds, and a wrenching look at the lonesome, brutal, and restrictive realities of rural poverty, Salvage the Bones is muscled with poetry, revelatory, and real.

Review:

"The first great novel about Katrina." Kate Tuttle, Boston Globe

Review:

"[A] searing, understated, and big-hearted novel." Salon

Review:

"Salvage the Bones is an intense book, with powerful, direct prose that dips into poetic metaphor....We are immersed in Esch's world, a world in which birth and death nestle close, where there is little safety except that which the siblings create for each other. That close-knit familial relationship is vivid and compelling, drawn with complexities and detail." Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times

Review:

"I've just read [Salvage the Bones] and it'll be a long time before its magic wears off...Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretention, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy....A palpable sense of desire and sorrow animates every page here...Salvage the Bones has the aura of a classic about it." Ron Charles, Washington Post

Review:

"A timeless tale of a family that regains its humanity in the face of incalculable loss." Gina Webb, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Review:

"Jesmyn Ward has claimed her place both as a contemporary witness of life in the rural south and as a descendant of its great originals." Nicholas Delbanco, author of Sherbrookes and Lastingness: The Art of Old Age

Review:

"The narrator's voice sparks with beauty as it urges the reader through this moving story set in the shadow of Katrina." Zoë Triska, Huffington Post

Review:

"Jesmyn Ward has written...the first Katrina-drenched fiction I'd press upon readers now." Karen R. Long, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Review:

"Ward's redolent prose conjures the magic and menace of the southern landscape." Elizabeth Hoover, Dallas Morning News

Review:

"The novel's power comes from the dread of the approaching storm and a pair of violent climaxes. The first is a dog fight, an appalling spectacle given emotional depth by Skeetah's love for the pit bull China (their bond is the strongest and most affecting in the book). When the hurricane strikes, Ms. Ward endows it, too, with attributes maternal and savage: ‘Katrina is the mother we will remember until the next mother with large merciless hands, committed to blood, comes.'" Wall Street Journal

Review:

"From its lyrical yet visceral first scene, this novel had me, and I hardly dared to put it down for fear a spell might be broken. But it never was or will be; such are the gifts of this writer." Laura Kasischke, author of In a Perfect World

Review:

"Without a false note....A superbly realized work of fiction that, while Southern to the bone, transcends its region to become universal." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Review:

"With her tough, tense and taut tale of one rural family's bitter and bloody fight for survival in the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina, [Ward] has secured herself a place among such other great Southern writers as Flannery O'Connor, Harper Lee and William Faulkner. Wards electrifying, exhilarating, edge-of-your-seat second novel, Salvage the Bones, takes us into the naked heart of one Southern family struggling for both survival and identity. With prose both powerful and poetic, Ward has imagined an unforgettable family." CityBeat (Cincinnati)

Review:

"Ward uses fearless, toughly lyrical language to convey this family's close-knit tenderness [and] the sheer bloody-minded difficulty of rural African American life....It's an eye-opening heartbreaker that ends in hope....You owe it to yourself to read this book." Library Journal (starred review)

Review:

"Few works of fiction can capture the heart-wrenching emotions attached to a natural disaster, and fewer still can do it in a way that seems palpable and fresh. Salvage the Bones, the latest by rising star Jesmyn Ward, accomplishes this feat, and then some....From beginning to end, Jesmyn flirts with perfection in this stunning second novel, and the reader is rewarded for it." Free Lance-Star

Review:

"A pitch-perfect account of struggle and community in the rural South....Though the characters in Salvage the Bones face down Hurricane Katrina, the story isn't really about the storm. It's about people facing challenges, and how they band together to overcome adversity." BookPage

Review:

"[Salvage the Bones] is uncompromising and frank, showing both beauty and violence, poverty and resilience, in a powerful and poetic voice." Sun Herald

About the Author

Jesmyn Ward grew up in DeLisle, Mississippi. She received her MFA from the University of Michigan, where she won five Hopwood awards for essays, drama, and fiction. A Stegner Fellow at Stanford, from 2008-2010, she has been named the 2010-11 Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi. Her debut novel, Where the Line Bleeds, was an Essence Magazine Book Club selection, a Black Caucus of the ALA Honor Award recipient, and a finalist for both the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award and the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

Laurel Sprague, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Laurel Sprague)
When I finished this book, I felt like my life was better for having read it. Honestly. I picked it up because it won the 2011 National Book Award. The first chapter failed to fully grab me, but I persevered. From there, I was drawn completely into the lives of 15-year old Esch and her brothers, family, and neighbors. I could not put the book down; the final third I read standing up as I never actually made it to the chair I intended to sit in.

In short, I have never encountered a character like the character of Esch; so close to who I am and yet so different. I think that this is the mark of genius in Jesmyn Ward. It was as if she took a group of people from the television news of Hurricane Katrina, standing on the bridge or stuck in an evacuation center, and picked the ones that would be most likely to be ignored, disregarded, or used as negative examples, and then proceeds to make you understand them, one by one, and even to start to love some of them. This all happens seamlessly, almost while you aren't paying attention, because you are compelled by the hurricane and the crescendo pitch that Ward build. It is a beautiful, moving, thrilling story.
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Cherish, August 3, 2012 (view all comments by Cherish)
Ron Charles of the Washington Post got it right when he said Salvage the Bones has the aura of a classic about it. It certainly does read like a good classic bit of lit. Ward does a wonderful job of weaving together the multiple stories of the different characters and their own struggles; her story telling abilities are seamless and the narratives have a good flow to them and I find myself eating these chapter up, despite the fact that this usually isn't a genre I read often. It's a great break from the fast paced science fiction books I usually read. I'd recommend it to anyone who's looking for a good, more contemporary read.
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Marlena Clark, May 6, 2012 (view all comments by Marlena Clark)
Jesmyn Ward's latest book, Salvage the Bones, didn't get a lot of attention before rising out of the dust with the National Book Award in 2011. Thank god it won the award, it's the best book I've read this year.
The story follows a family living near the coast in Mississippi during the ten days proceeding hurricane Katrina, and the day of the storm. The main character, Esch, lives with her father and brothers in a ramshackle house. Esch is fifteen years old, precocious, smart, kind, and pregnant. In her world, there are no choices.
Ward gives depth to every character in this novel, elevating them out their dire poverty so the reader sees the soul within. Even Esch's alcoholic father has moments of kindness and care, although he is largely absent or at the periphery while the kids make their own way. Esch's brother, Skeet, has a pitbull named China who is like his soulmate. Her brother Randall has hung all of his hopes on basketball camp and discovery by a college scout. Her youngest brother Junior is a typical bratty child, a necessary character in this book. He grounds the family in reality.
The characters are treated with care. They never veer into mere stereotype. Even Randall's friends who come around are not mere thugs or cretins, they are kids. Esch lets them take advantage of her, but her love for one of them above all others shines through. Ward shows Esch's turmoil and pain, her most heartfelt desires.
Perhaps these characteristics sound like something out of an ordinary romance novel. Ward's use of language and metaphor set this book apart. One criticism has been that it's hard to believe a fifteen year old girl in the sticks of Mississippi could have the observations Esch has in the novel. This criticism speaks more of the reader than the writer. Ward is careful to show Esch's intelligence and thoughtfulness, her awareness of the world around her. Popular opinion holds that poor people can not be smart people, they can't be as educated so they can't be as poetic. Tell that to James Baldwin.
The hurricane adds tension to the story for the reader but not for the characters. As readers, we know what is to come as soon as Esch's father says the storm has a name and that name is Katrina. As typical in hurricane-prone regions, the families in this novel intend to ride it out. The children scoff at their father's insistence that they must prepare. Despite being prepared for what's coming, as the reader, when the storm hits it takes your breath away. The slow build, the high tension, the choices and decisions, not choices or decisions at all, truly.
Salvage the Bones not only gives a realistic portrayal of life immediately following hurricane Katrina, but it also gives insight into the lives of people affected. Beyond that, into the mindset of poor people in America, and the unfairness of it all, of life.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781608196265
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Ward, Jesmyn
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20120424
Binding:
Paperback
Language:
English
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
8.3 x 5.88 x 0.77 in

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Salvage the Bones New Trade Paper
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Product details 288 pages Bloomsbury Publishing PLC - English 9781608196265 Reviews:
"Review" by , "The first great novel about Katrina."
"Review" by , "[A] searing, understated, and big-hearted novel."
"Review" by , "Salvage the Bones is an intense book, with powerful, direct prose that dips into poetic metaphor....We are immersed in Esch's world, a world in which birth and death nestle close, where there is little safety except that which the siblings create for each other. That close-knit familial relationship is vivid and compelling, drawn with complexities and detail."
"Review" by , "I've just read [Salvage the Bones] and it'll be a long time before its magic wears off...Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretention, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy....A palpable sense of desire and sorrow animates every page here...Salvage the Bones has the aura of a classic about it."
"Review" by , "A timeless tale of a family that regains its humanity in the face of incalculable loss."
"Review" by , "Jesmyn Ward has claimed her place both as a contemporary witness of life in the rural south and as a descendant of its great originals."
"Review" by , "The narrator's voice sparks with beauty as it urges the reader through this moving story set in the shadow of Katrina."
"Review" by , "Jesmyn Ward has written...the first Katrina-drenched fiction I'd press upon readers now."
"Review" by , "Ward's redolent prose conjures the magic and menace of the southern landscape."
"Review" by , "The novel's power comes from the dread of the approaching storm and a pair of violent climaxes. The first is a dog fight, an appalling spectacle given emotional depth by Skeetah's love for the pit bull China (their bond is the strongest and most affecting in the book). When the hurricane strikes, Ms. Ward endows it, too, with attributes maternal and savage: ‘Katrina is the mother we will remember until the next mother with large merciless hands, committed to blood, comes.'"
"Review" by , "From its lyrical yet visceral first scene, this novel had me, and I hardly dared to put it down for fear a spell might be broken. But it never was or will be; such are the gifts of this writer."
"Review" by , "Without a false note....A superbly realized work of fiction that, while Southern to the bone, transcends its region to become universal."
"Review" by , "With her tough, tense and taut tale of one rural family's bitter and bloody fight for survival in the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina, [Ward] has secured herself a place among such other great Southern writers as Flannery O'Connor, Harper Lee and William Faulkner. Wards electrifying, exhilarating, edge-of-your-seat second novel, Salvage the Bones, takes us into the naked heart of one Southern family struggling for both survival and identity. With prose both powerful and poetic, Ward has imagined an unforgettable family."
"Review" by , "Ward uses fearless, toughly lyrical language to convey this family's close-knit tenderness [and] the sheer bloody-minded difficulty of rural African American life....It's an eye-opening heartbreaker that ends in hope....You owe it to yourself to read this book."
"Review" by , "Few works of fiction can capture the heart-wrenching emotions attached to a natural disaster, and fewer still can do it in a way that seems palpable and fresh. Salvage the Bones, the latest by rising star Jesmyn Ward, accomplishes this feat, and then some....From beginning to end, Jesmyn flirts with perfection in this stunning second novel, and the reader is rewarded for it."
"Review" by , "A pitch-perfect account of struggle and community in the rural South....Though the characters in Salvage the Bones face down Hurricane Katrina, the story isn't really about the storm. It's about people facing challenges, and how they band together to overcome adversity."
"Review" by , "[Salvage the Bones] is uncompromising and frank, showing both beauty and violence, poverty and resilience, in a powerful and poetic voice."
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