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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Book Review: Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

I wasn't particularly excited to read a book about Hurricane Katrina, but a book club is partly for expanding what I read. And I liked it pretty well, but I don't think it was National Book Award Winner good.

Esch and her brothers and father live in a falling down shack in Bois Sauvage, Mississippi. Esch has recently figured out she's pregnant, her brother Skeetah is doting on his prize pit bull who has just given birth and he hopes to finally make some money from the puppies, her brother Randall is working on his basketball hoping it's a way out of Bois Sauvage, and the baby Junior is just getting into trouble and trying to keep up. As they all go about their usual scraping-by existence, their father starts to prepare for the big storm he's been hearing about, but nothing can truly prepare any of them for Katrina, and they will all be tested.

I was surprised by how late in the book the storm hits. And the language was difficult. All Esch's brother's friends were hard to keep straight, and her own name was confusing and only mentioned 1-2 times so it was hard to even remember who our main character was. That said, the language and the characters got a lot easier as the book went on, and it was a great discussion book as there were a lot of interesting themes and topics. But it just wasn't my cup of tea. And it's not because of the poverty or the awful lives these teens had, but it didn't help. I felt the patois was a bit put-on and used as a way to distance readers from the characters unnecessarily (their lives were foreign enough) and the actual climax was very confusing. I wish it had read more smoothly and that there was a little more of a resolution than there was.

I bought this book from my local independent bookstore, Park Road Books.

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