May 3, 2016

Review: Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

This book??

But in a good way.  

This is a story that needed to be told.

Hurricane Katrina is coming to Bois Savage, Mississippi and shit is about to get all kinds of real.

This family?  I think I fell in love with them all in the first or second chapter.  Ward immediately lets the reader know exactly who they are dealing with in the family.  Junior, the youngest by several years, is to be nurtured; Randall, the eldest, is the surrogate dad (their real father is a hard drinker and their mom died some time ago) trying to figure out a way out of Bois Savage; Skeetah is the big dreamer, but he is also the one most caught up in the life there with his beloved fight dog, China, and her new litter; and Esch is the sole female at 15, trying to figure out how to be a woman in a world of no female role models and boys who don't do her any favors. 

Esch winds up pregnant by a boy who is involved with another girl and Esch is totally alone and bewildered as to what to do now.  In the background - behind the stories of pregnancy and pit bull puppies and Randall's basketball dreams and poverty - is the looming threat of Hurricane Katrina.  Their father does at least prepare the house for Katrina, so he is not completely useless.  The family doesn't always know how to interact with each other - especially since the death of the mother - but they ban together when it matters, and the tests keep coming.

I seriously wanted to adopt all four of these kids and keep them safe!!!  Perhaps they reminded me a lot of the children I taught - disadvantaged in numerous ways and struggling to figure this world out.  It is my soft spot and my passion and my instinct.  The more I think about it the more I am sure this is why I bonded with this family so quickly.

My only wish is that the section where Katrina comes is a little longer.  I really wanted more details.  There was a lot, but I think I am hungry for stories about what it was like living through that storm and the after math. If you know of more books that tackle the subject, please let me know!!!

This is not a happy story.  It is not a sad story, either, exactly.  It is just a tough story.  A gritty, heartfelt story of the struggle to survive - physically, mentally, and emotionally.  It is a story that will stay with the reader for a long, long time.  I hope you will read it.

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