Reading the back of this book I was overwhelmed. I did not know it was possible to take so many diverse issues and somehow tie them all together. Jesmyn Ward does just this, coherently blending Hurricane Katrina, teen pregnancy, four motherless children with an alcoholic father, racial problems, poverty, and all complications associated with a new puppy litter into a single story. And she does this magically. And though Hurricane Katrina only is occurring in two of the twelve days that make up this book, I felt the intensity of a storm on every page.
During the days leading up to the hurricane, fourteen-year-old, Esch, her three brothers, Skeetah, Randall, and Junior, and their father face more obstacles than most will in a lifetime. Whether it’s Esch hiding a pregnancy at fourteen or Skeetah trying to keep his pitbull and her newborn puppies alive, each character has their own complex issues, making every page lively and eventful. On top of the abundance of personal issues, I must note that they are a black family living in poverty, preparing for Hurricane Katrina. The only way they were able to survive the extremity of the storm and their adversities was by battling these hardships with the support and unconditional love for one another.
Not only is Salvage the Bones an exceptional story and written remarkably, but Ward incorporates a storyline that is generally neglected. She takes a black, rural family, most often portrayed in books and movies as just that, a black, rural family, and actually writes them an interesting, strong, beautiful story. We rarely read of poor, black communities with fully developed, and such complex characters, but Jesmyn Ward fills Esch and her family with love, strength, bravery, meaningful relationships, and gives each a unique, elaborate character.
Salvage the Bones is an incredible, original novel taking on a point of view we are hardly ever exposed to. I highly recommend anyone and everyone to get your hands on a copy of this book as soon as possible and experience the brilliance that it is.