Customer Reviews for

Salvage the Bones

Average Rating 3.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

17 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

Beautiful novel

I wrote a longer review for this book on my nook before accidently clicking away from the screen and losing it, so I'm not going to re-write the long review this book truly deserves. Instead, to keep it short and sweet, I'll just say this book is beautiful, the characte...
I wrote a longer review for this book on my nook before accidently clicking away from the screen and losing it, so I'm not going to re-write the long review this book truly deserves. Instead, to keep it short and sweet, I'll just say this book is beautiful, the characters exceptional, the plot tense but slow enough to savor, and the climax equal parts distressing and hopeful. I finished this book several days ago (read it in one sitting) and it has still stuck with me so do yourself a favor and read this book.

posted by AuroraDora on November 26, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

28 out of 31 people found this review helpful.

The writing is well done - no equivocations there.  Jesmyn Ward

The writing is well done - no equivocations there.  Jesmyn Ward is masterful in her storytelling.  

BUT, if you, like me, cannot stomach stories in which bad things happen to dogs, do not read this book.  Aside from the dog fighting, if I never hear another story about...
The writing is well done - no equivocations there.  Jesmyn Ward is masterful in her storytelling.  

BUT, if you, like me, cannot stomach stories in which bad things happen to dogs, do not read this book.  Aside from the dog fighting, if I never hear another story about the dogs that people failed to adequately care for during Katrina, I'd be glad for it.  Maybe it's the state of the world, but I prefer my fiction without sad and mistreated dogs.      

posted by jm248 on January 4, 2013

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  • Posted January 4, 2013

    The writing is well done - no equivocations there.  Jesmyn Ward

    The writing is well done - no equivocations there.  Jesmyn Ward is masterful in her storytelling.  

    BUT, if you, like me, cannot stomach stories in which bad things happen to dogs, do not read this book.  Aside from the dog fighting, if I never hear another story about the dogs that people failed to adequately care for during Katrina, I'd be glad for it.  Maybe it's the state of the world, but I prefer my fiction without sad and mistreated dogs.      

    28 out of 31 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2013

    Dogs dont sweat

    Someone needs to inform the author that dogs dont sweat. She spent paragraphs describing dogs sweating and dogs dont even sweat aside from the occational drop from their paw pads. Its ridiculous along with a lot of the writing in this book which I dont even care to waste time describing.

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 27, 2014

    Having been to New Orleans to work on Hurricane Katrina's devast

    Having been to New Orleans to work on Hurricane Katrina's devastating damage, I was drawn to this book. I wasn't sure at first that I really liked the slow moving style of the book. However, it did mirror the travel of a hurricane! And after I finished, I did basically like the book as it really showed how many people in that area just truly did not think the destruction would be so massive. The author really showed the life of this dysfunctional family, but how they were drawn together during this time. What I did not like was all the descriptive language in the book....the similes and metaphors were TOTALLY overdone and there were many times I wanted to ditch the book and not finish it. However, I AM glad I stuck it out...just reader beware...found myself at times just skimming these sections!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 10, 2012

    What is Salvage the Bones About? Salvage the Bones is one of th

    What is Salvage the Bones About?
    Salvage the Bones is one of the better books to read in an English class. Jesmyn Ward is one of the best authors to read. She can really tell a story and take stuff around her and write one of the best books. This book is about poor people and what happens when there is a hurricane fixing to hit. Many of the characters in this book can relate to someone you know or have heard of. The main characters names are: Esch, Skeetah, and Junior. All the characters are so different from each other even though they are siblings. Jesmyn Ward effectively used the contrast in the pace of the book as a technique to really show the calm before the storm. Just as life for the real victims of Hurricane Katrina continued as usual in the days leading up to the hurricane, with all the mundaneness of daily life, so did the lives of Esch and her family, that is, until the hurricane hit and wiped everything out.
    Esch and her three brothers are raised by their alcoholic father in their run down house. Her father does not have a job and is abusive towards her bothers sometimes. There is little money for the necessities they need like food. So they live off the land as much as they can and they hope they can make money off the litter of pure bred pit bull terriers one of her older brothers is raising. They do bad things sometimes like steel but they don’t know better. In this story to Esch is fourteen and ends up pregnant.
    Esch is the main character in this book. She is the one that tells the story and everything that goes on. Her mother died when she was young. Esch is in love with a guy named Manny. He only uses her for sex because he knows she is so easy and it is not fair for her. She ends up pregnant and she does not want to tell anybody. She is Manny’s girl on the side, while the girl he talks to doesn’t want to do anything with him. Esch is a really good girl beside that. But you really can’t blame her most teenagers her age have sex. And some cases you do have some of them getting pregnant. It is sad that her mother is not there to help her. That is probably the reason she is the way she is. She has a lot of fun though and she grew up pretty well without a mother.
    Motherhood is certainly a recurring theme in Salvage the Bones. Everyone is Esch's family remembers their mother with love. Esch's father is clearly a man devastated by the loss of his wife and the mother of his children. Esch, on the cusp of becoming a mother herself, reflects on the good that her mother did and the big shoes that she and her brothers had to fill when her mother passed away. Ward takes time to show Skeetah's dog China's attempts to be a mother to her new pups, and Skeetah's attempt to take on this roll when China and the pups need him to.
    All of the characters are salvaging something. Skeetah, one of Esch's brothers, salvages anything he can for the sake of his dogs; wormer, food, planks of wood. In doing so Skeetah is really attempting to salvage his sense of purpose. They all salvage items from their property in order to prepare for the hurricane, just as everyone who was affected by the hurricane must salvage what they can of their lives. For Junior, one of Esch's brothers, it is memories of his mother that he attempts to salvage throughout the novel.
    Ward creates a real sense of wilderness and need around Esch and her family. She created this by slowly revealing little details that really demonstrated the level of poverty they lived in. Ward reveals how the children had to raise their youngest brother when their mother dies in childbirth. When the hurricane hits it speeds up the speed of the story. It has you reading faster cause you get so into it. You will never want to put it down. This is one of the best books Jesmyn Ward has written and it is worth reading. It is interesting and you never know what is coming.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 10, 2012

    As Hurricane Katrina began to brew in the Gulf of Mexico, Esch a

    As Hurricane Katrina began to brew in the Gulf of Mexico, Esch and her family prepared to face many hard ships for the next twelve days. “Salvage the Bones,” written by Jesmyn Ward, is told through the eyes of the fourteen year old daughter named Esch. In the midst of preparing for the hurricane coming, Skeetah’s pit-bull gives birth to a litter of puppies, Esch finds out she is pregnant, and their family slowly falls apart.
    This book opened with the scene of Skeetah’s pit-bull, China, giving birth to a litter of puppies. This book revolved around a cycle of birth and death and pain and sorrow. Skeetah strived to care for China like he wanted his father to care for his children. Although Esch’s father stayed drunk and he was usually absent in their life, they learned how to fend for themselves. Esch and her three brothers, Randall, Skeetah, and Junior, came together and protected each other.
    Their mother died giving birth to Junior, therefore; they have longed for that mother figure since she has been gone. Esch tries to somewhat take the role of her mother by comforting her brothers, cooking, and taking care of things around their house. Esch’s brothers took care of the manly chores around their home and stock up on the little food they could find to help them during the hurricane. The food and products were so limited that Skeetah would sneak scraps to feed China and her pups. This story truly showed how strong and caring the children were during such a tragic time and at such a young age.
    They did not have much to ease their hardships while living in poverty. Esch escaped from reality through sex. This showed how lost she was without having a mother there to teach her right from wrong. Randall found a passion in basketball. He had high hopes that he would be taken away from the pit by getting scouted by a college league. Skeetah spent his time taking care of China or putting her in dog fights. Junior was very young and tended to cling to Randall. They did not have parents to guide their paths or set any type of standards for them; they only had each other.
    This book illustrated the reality and pitiless hardships that poverty faces daily. All the hardships in Esch’s life have taught her life-long lessons she can use toward anything. Not only did Esch and her brothers have to cope on their own, their childhood was taken away. With the death of their mother and the absence of their father, it seemed as if love and compassion toward Esch and her brothers was very limited throughout this book. Every time a good thing came along, death followed closely behind it. Even though this family faced a brutal time in their lives, Esch and her family found light through the darkness.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 10, 2012

    Keana Wash Review of Salvage the Bones Salvage the Bones writt

    Keana Wash

    Review of Salvage the Bones
    Salvage the Bones written by Jesmyn Ward, is an interesting book to read. It captures your attention the moment it is read. The family of the Bastile not only struggled from pregnancy and poverty, they also tried to manage Hurricane Katrina as well. Even though they had their problems, nothing seem like it could pull them apart.
    The Bastile family are not as wealthy as most people in their town. They live in a house called a pit in a very small neighborhood. They did not have many jobs around and if they did get a job, it did not pay over minimum wage. They did not get to eat a whole lot of fancy food. Basically, they ate the same thing almost every day, which was ramen noodles and eggs. The kids did not have a mother or a mother figure around to help except for Esh. She was the only girl in the household. On top of all that, Esh was pregnant with a baby. So that was one more problem added to their list that they did not need. They could barely feed their family, so what makes them think they can feed one more mouth? Despite all of that, they had a pitbull name China that was a fighting dog that was once a champion, but then had gotten pregnant and they are trying to find a medicine to give her so she will not get worms.
    Esh is pregnant by this dude that she is madly in love with but unfortunately, he cannot help support the baby when it is born. Pregnancy is the thing in their family because Esh and the dog are, but at the moment and time, they cannot afford that to happen. Before Esh knew she was pregnant, she was noticing that she was getting sick and missing her cycle. Sadly to say, she did not have the money to buy a pregnancy test so she had to steal in order to find out. When she had took the test that morning that is when she had foung out she was becoming a mother.
    Love is a hard to thing to find and a hard thing to lose. If you are in love, it is hard for you to see many things that your partner is doing. Just like Esh, she is in love with this boy name Manny. He is the one that has gotten her pregnant. Sadly, he does not care for her as she does for him. He does not treat her like she needs to be treated, but she still manages to be around him and love him. Many does not see how much Esh really loves him. He just do not want to see it.
    The Bastile family have had many obstacles thrown at their feet but they still are a family. They love each other more than words can describe. Not only were they in Hurricane Katrina, they also had problems like poverty, pregnancy, and life itself.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2012

    Salvage the Bones Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward is a good bo

    Salvage the Bones

    Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward is a good book in its own right. It’s very descriptive, almost too descriptive for its own good. Jesmyn does let you know exactly what it feels like to live in a world where women are not given the respect that they are due. Wards book is so descriptive, that at times it draws the reader in so deep that the reader finds their selves anxious to find out what will happen next, but at other times, Ward is so descriptive, that she almost makes you want to stop reading.
    Jesmyn Ward’s book is a good story in itself. It’s an inspiring story that contains many metaphors and similes that enhance the storytelling a lot. It is very interesting story, about Esch, who is a young high school age girl who lives in a ghetto, called “the Pit”. In the pit, Esch is surrounded by men; her dad, her three brothers, and all of their friends, are always at the pit, and have always been in Esch’s life. Whenever Esch grows older, and the boys start recognizing her, she starts having sex with them. She eventually learns that she is pregnant, and the book is about her overcoming those difficulties.
    That’s where the vividness and descriptiveness of Ward’s story hurts this book. At times when the reader is reading this book, they will want to stop and put it down because of it. Ward describes Esch’s sexual activities in this book so vividly, that it borderlines pornography. Most people, including me, would find it disgusting and appalling. Esch engages in sexual activities numerous times throughout the book, and every time, the reader will want to throw the book down in disgust.
    Despite how graphic and vivid the book is during Esch’s sexual encounters, the story is still a good story, and the book is an ovrerall good book. Esch is a very inspiring and determined main character. Although she throws herself around sexually, she is the maternity figure that every mother should be, not even to the baby growing inside of her, but to her family as well. Overall, this makes the book a good one. All of the characters are portrayed very vividly and believable, and definitely helps the book.
    In the end, Salvage the Bones is overall a good book. Despite many of it’s disgusting vividness and sexuality, if the reader is mature enough to understand what is going on in Esch’s love life, then they will more than likely enjoy this book. Its intricate storytelling is very vital to what makes this book a good book. Overall, while this book may be very vivid and disturbing at some points, it’s at it’s the high points where the story is very intricate with its drama, character growth, and relationships that really make this book shine. In the end, this book is definitely recommended, as long as the reader is mature enough, and thinks that they can handle its vivid sexuality.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2012

    In the Wake of Katrina

    Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones is a book full of deviance and troubles. The diction and poetry add to the incredible situations this southern Mississippi family overcomes. The author plays with the reader’s emotions by not giving the reader what he or she necessarily expects to happen. The family takes hit after hit until the story reaches a climax, hurricane Katrina has arrived. The emotions and action described during the hurricane were thrilling and made it extremely hard to put down and quit reading. Ward, an African American native of Mississippi, definitely understands the language and the way people communicate and interact down south. She effectively uses this knowledge throughout the novel and it adds to the heart and setting of the novel.
    The novel never ceases to add and use blunt realism to the language and relationships between characters. The realism just adds interest to the novel and makes it much more enjoyable to read. The blunt language and situations, mainly occur in Esch’s life, particularly in her sexual life and the experiences she went through while growing up. Some scenes get extremely graphic. It is definitely not a book for children. The many different disasters the family goes through is incredible and brutal. From their mother dying while giving birth to the youngest son, from Esch getting pregnant, to the father not being concerned at all about the devastation and destruction to their home during the hurricane. There are many others. The trials are relentless and never let up during the timeline this story uses.
    Also, some character is always under sort of stress at some point in the story. But the story goes on to show morals, even though troubles come, there is still something to smile and be happy about. Things will get better. There are some tough roads to get there sometimes but things do get better. Even though they lost their home in the midst of the hurricane, they did not lose each other. Everyone was safe and for the most part uninjured. The overall moral of the story could very well be just that, that even though terrible things may happen, there is still something to smile or be happy about. The family was strong, they had been through so much. They were experienced in making it through hard times. This could possibly be the reason that they endured through the hurricane. Their strong will and determination helped them stay alive. Any other family that had not faced the things this family had may not have been strong enough to make it through and might have perished in the midst of the storm.
    All in all, the novel can be interpreted and described in many ways. But probably the most prevalent is that family and friends are the stronghold to survival in the walk of life. The end of the book focuses heavily on that when we see the family survive the hurricane together, and then we see the friends take them under their wing while they can rebuild. This novel was all about the bonds between each other and the strength the bonds brought. -CDeNoon

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 12, 2012

    The Per

    The Persistence Found from the Salvage
    Salvage the Bones is a semi-exciting tale of a southern, adolescent girl’s efforts to gain acceptance of a fraud love as well as help her three brothers and father prepare for an eminent hurricane. Jesmyn Ward, the creator of the novel, does an excellent job in portraying the life of those who live in back wood, isolated areas because she once lived in that “bonafied country” area. The novel itself effortlessly compliments southern dialogue, human interaction, and rivalry conflict from Ward’s characters to “real-life” situations. Although the book is rich in literary elements, mass levels of comprehension are needed to understand the text’s constant flow-back to the past while in the middle of a present statement. Ward overexerts her ability to flashback, but if anything her novel is a good compliment in reference to Mythology’s “Quest of the Golden Fleece.” The use of similes and metaphors within Salvage the Bones compare Ward’s main character with the character Medea. "Here is someone that I recognize," says Esch. "When Medea falls in love with Jason, it grabs me by the throat. ... Even with all her power, Jason bends her like a young pine in a hard wind; he makes her double in two (Ward 38).” Esch, Ward’s protagonist, loves the feminist value of Medea. The more Medea prospers, the more Esch feels inspired to persevere through her grief. It is obvious that Ward wants her readers to understand the true denotation of anguish. Ward’s protagonist is a victim of sexual degradation, rejection, and physical/psychological torment. “What I carry in my stomach is relentless; like each unbearable day… and my ribs break like dry summer wood, and burn and burn and burn… Tears run down my face like water, and I cover my face with my shirt, but it is too hot and I can’t make it go away. I can never make it stop never nothing (Ward 205).” However, Ward allows her reader to understand that hope is available to all those who seek to persevere through trials and tribulations. Ward wouldn’t allow pain and suffering’s presence to be a factor in her book if there wasn’t a way to endure it all. Chapter twelve of Salvage the Bones complies with these ideals by emphasizing the vibrant word “alive” throughout the chapter. Other than survival, another strongly exaggerated analysis of Wards book is dependence. Some of Ward’s characters go through a spontaneous metamorphosis in which they relieve themselves of their pride for the good of the family. An individual’s independent and survivalist mentality can only lead to self-destruction and a group’s downfall. The perfect example of an inner change is within Skeetah, Esch’s Brother. The obsession and ambition that is so dominant in his nature quickly transforms into regret and self-resentment. Skeetah forces himself to conflict against his protective of China nature and change his priorities in order to instinctively save Esch. “… but then I feel a real hand, a human hand, cold and hard as barbed wire on my leg, pulling me back, and then I am being pushed up and out of the water, held by Skeet… and he is calling, China, come China, but she is nowhere (235).” Even after Katrina hits, winds of change continue to ease its way along the Louisiana border affecting more prideful individuals inside of Ward’s novel. Characters such as Claude pledges to the family, in his own words, that he will be there for the children after the near death experience his kids helped him to survive while he was in a semi-intoxicated state of mind. Scenes such as these in her tale emphasize Ward’s beliefs in the human ability to change their ways for the better. Lastly, the imagery used by the author is beautiful, magnificent, and a true testament to Romantic Era writing. The visualization and descriptive scenery Ward allows Esch to offer to the readers deserves a standing ovation:
    Manny begins flipping the silver and red lighter again when he mentions Rico. The image, which looks like a tattoo, reads Hearts on Fire, and pictures to hearts diagonal to one another, going up in flames. His lips kiss the cigarillo and he pulls. China blinks and yawns. There is a movement behind my breast that feels like someone has turned a hose on full blast, and the water that has been baking in the pump in the summer heat floods out, scalding. This is love, and it hurts. Manny never looks at me (Ward 94).
    The level of imagery portrayed in this book gives everyone a sense of a presence in the story in which a reader may believe it was their story to tell or an actual occurrence from their lives. Hopefully, Ward is currently enjoying the boasting abilities that come along with the prestigious National Book Award honor. Not many fictional tales are able to envelop a shroud of acclamation.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 8, 2012

    Jesmyn Ward¿s Salvage the Bones depicts the lives of Esch and he

    Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones depicts the lives of Esch and her family. They have experienced several cases of tragedy throughout the novel but always seem to overcome it. After reading the novel, I believe Jesmyn Ward did an excellent job describing their situations they encounter. She is an extremely vivid write providing infinite amounts of detail to support herself in her writing.
    This novel is smartly plotted and provides the reader with the right amount of information. Each character has their own personality which helps the reader with the reader cling to one character and connect themselves with that character. Esch is a fifteen year old struggling to make it through each day. She struggles with her own secret that her father does not know anything about it. Young girls or moms can relate to her because they have all experienced a time where no one could know their secret. In her case, some may not have it experienced it, but they know a friend who struggled finding themselves. Skeetah keeps watch of his beloved pit-bull pup, China, throughout the novel. Junior and Randall live day by day trying to survive through the hurricane that is coming their way.
    Will this family survive? Can they handle the struggles they are put through until the end? Esch and her family make it through it all. They may fight, but they love and care passionately for each other.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted June 20, 2012

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