Friday, December 27, 2013

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

3.5 Stars

Salvage the Bones follows the Batiste family through 12 days in August of 2005 as they prepare to ride out what starts as a tropical depression, but ends up turning into Hurricane Katrina. As the impoverished family attempts to scrape together enough scrap wood to board the house and a stockpile of food and water to last them a few days, they are also forced to come to terms with their past, present and future. The past is a mother who died giving birth to Junior, the youngest sibling, leaving the family to be raised by an alcoholic father. The present is a litter of puppies born by Skeetah’s prize fighting pit bull who could sell for enough money to change their lives for a bit, but who are instead dying one by one. The future is 14-year old Esch’s baby that she hasn’t been brave enough to tell anyone about.

One of the most beautifully written books I’ve read all year and I’m finding it so hard to review. This is a book that is about nothing, yet about everything at the same time. I found myself completely hypnotized by the prose, waiting for the crescendo of Hurricane Katrina. Although this book isn’t free of problems Jesmyn Ward is a master of language and honest, believable, bleak, brutal, gritty, characters.  A very "book clubby" book that will spark great conversation over a glass (or three) of vino.

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