Sunday, September 4, 2011

Salvage the Bones: A Novel by Jesmyn Ward (Review and Giveaway!!)

About book:

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.

My Thoughts:

Read this book - you will not be disappointed!  The writing is excellent and the characters truly are unforgettable.  Your heart will break reading about Esch and her family and the extreme poverty they live in; plus, you won't be able to put the book down once Hurricane Katrina makes her way to their home and starts wreaking all sorts of havoc.  Consisting of twelve chapters, each one representing a day in the life of the Batiste family, Salvage the Bones, tells the gripping story of four siblings and their drunken father, all of whom are trying to make do with the various situations they find themselves involved in.  We have a pregnant fourteen year old named, Esch, who is trying to work up the courage to tell Manny (her crush and brother's best friend) that he is about to be a father, all the while hiding her baby bump behind baggy clothing.  An older brother nicknamed, Skeetah, who is obsessed with making sure his one true love, China, is mending well after giving birth to her first litter of pups.  And then their is Randall, who is trying to figure out how to get himself to basketball camp, and Junior, the baby brother who always seems to be in the way.  Rounding out the story is Claude, the patriarch of the Batiste family; he's busy drinking and talking about hurricanes, that he has no idea what his children are really up to.  Throw in a hurricane of epic proportions and you got yourself a story so mesmerizing that you won't be able to take your nose out of your book.   I haven't felt so emotionally engaged with a book in so long, that reading Salvage the Bones was a great reminder of how fantastically riveting literature can be.  This book focuses on family, tragedy, abandonment, and poverty in such an honest way, that you can't help but become consumed by the Batiste's dramas and livelihood.  You want nothing but the best for these four forgotten children who have had to grow up too fast too soon.

On a personal note, having experienced a hurricane as devastating as Katrina firsthand (mine was Hurricane Andrew), I can definitely attest to the realistic portrayal of the flooding, howling winds,
and destructive aftermath of trees bent in half, roofs torn off buildings, cars overturned, and houses reduced to piles of rubble.  Reading all about the preparations of boarding windows, gathering supplies, filling the sinks and tubs with water and hearing about evacuation instructions made me think back to my own experience.  I could remember the feelings of uncertainty, fear and disbelief at not only witnessing the destructive storm, but also upon seeing the complete destruction of my home and the town I grew up in.  It was as if Ward had taken a peek at my memories about a storm I had long forgotten about and brought them out for me to revisit.  My heart was racing as I read about the Batiste's house flooding through and how they struggled to find shelter from the storm - I felt like I was getting pelted with water.  And if a book can touch you on a variety levels, just like this one did for me, then it is definitely a book worth reading.  I would recommend Jesmyn Ward's, Salvage the Bones to everyone - it is a must read!!  You will love it!!
Thank you to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book to read and a copy to give away.  Yes, you can win a copy of this awesome book!  Just leave a comment and include your email address so that I can contact you if you win.  I'll choose a winner by using the random number generator.  Oh, and this giveaway is only open to those in the US/Canada.  Good luck!!!


Zibilee said...

I really liked your review! I had a hard time with this book, and I think it was because of the dog situation. The pit bull fighting really got to me because I own a pit and he is very non aggressive and sweet, and although I wanted to feel connected to the dog in this story, I just couldn't. I also found the family situation to be very sad. But it was incredibly realistic and very, very well written, which I enjoyed. Perhaps part of the reason that I had such a hard time with this one may have had to do with the fact that I have been reading a lot of serious books as of late. It was a very worthwhile read, but it broke my heart.

Anonymous said...

Having just gone through the trailing edge of Hurricane Irene (I'm in Maryland), this certainly seems to be a timely book for me!

It sounds like a very moving read and I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for being a part of the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.

Nadia said...

Zibilee, I know what you mean. I didn't like reading about the dog fighting, but I tried to just go with it - considering how much Skeetah loved China and how much they needed that money. It is definitelly a heartbreaking story, so I can see how if you had been reading a lot of serious stuff, this one would have been hard to get through. Sounds like you need something light - I know I do (which is why I'm participating in the RIP challenge).

heathertlc, hope you and your family are okay. Irene was a bad one. And yeah, seems like the perfect time to read this one. Thanks for having me on the tour and putting my review on FB. Such a great book - I really loved it!

Athira said...

Wow, now I'm really intrigued! This book sounds like everything I like in a book. I'm going to try getting this one! Loved your review!

Nadia said...

Aths, it really surprised me. It was way better than I had anticipated and I'm so glad I read it :) Hope you enjoy it, too!!

Wendy said...

I just finished the book yesterday and could not agree more with your review! It is an amazing book. I am on the tour for Wednesday, so my review will post then.

Nadia said...

Wendy, can't wait to read your post! It really was an amazing book!