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Bastard Out of Carolina

Bastard Out of Carolina

4.3 97
by Dorothy Allison

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In languid prose that beautifully evokes the rural South of the '60s and '70s, Allison tells the story of the Boatwright family, who refuse to be shamed by the label "poor white trash." Allison's keen eye and lyrical style throw into sharp relief the rages and sorrows of this bunch of drunks and thieves.


In languid prose that beautifully evokes the rural South of the '60s and '70s, Allison tells the story of the Boatwright family, who refuse to be shamed by the label "poor white trash." Allison's keen eye and lyrical style throw into sharp relief the rages and sorrows of this bunch of drunks and thieves.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Allison's remarkable country voice emerges in a first novel spiked with pungent characters ranging from the slatternly to the grotesque, and saturated with sense of place -- Greenville, S.C. Ruth Anne Boatwright, 13, got the nickname "Bone" at birth, when she was tiny as a knucklebone, and the tag acquires painful derivatives, like "Bonehead.'' While her mother, Annie, a waitress, tries vainly to get the word "illegitimate'' scrubbed from Bone's birth certificate, her tobacco-spitting granny reminds her she's a bastard. The identity of her real father, whom granny drove away, is kept from her. Surrounded by loving aunts and uncles, Bone still endures ridicule (she's homely, she has no voice for gospel singing) and -- from vicious Daddy Glen, her mother's new husband -- beatings and sexual abuse. Bone takes refuge in petty crime, like breaking into Woolworth's, and finds her truest friend in unmarried Aunt Raylene, who once had a great love for another woman. Annie gently defends Daddy Glen, blaming her daughter, until the tale's inevitably brutal climax. Mental and physical cruelty to women forms a main theme, illuminated by the subplot of pathetic albino Shannon Pearls, her story rife with Southern gothic overtones. Allison, author of the well-received short story collection "Trash," doesn't condescend to her "white trash'' characters; she portrays them with understanding and love.
Library Journal
Set in the rural South, this tale centers around the Boatwright family, a proud and closeknit clan known for their drinking, fighting, and womanizing. Nicknamed "Bone" by her Uncle Earle, Ruth Anne is the bastard child of Anney Boatwright, who has fought tirelessly to legitimize her child. When she marries Glen, a man from a good family, it appears that her prayers have been answered. However, Anney suffers a miscarriage and Glen begins drifting. He develops a contentious relationship with Bone and then begins taking sexual liberties with her. Embarrassed and unwilling to report these unwanted advances, Bone bottles them up and acts out her confusion and shame. Unaware of her husband's abusive behavior, Anney stands by her man. Eventually, a violent encounter wrests Bone away from her stepfather. In this first novel, Allison creates a rich sense of family and portrays the psychology of a sexually abused child with sensitivity and insight. Recommended for general fiction collections. --Kimberly G. Allen, National Assn. of Home Builders Lib., Washington, D.C.
George Garrett
When I finished Bastard Out of Carolina I wanted to blow a bugle to alert the reading public that a wonderful work of fiction by a major new talent has arrived on the scene....The technical skill in both large things and details, so gracefully executed as to be always at the service of the story and its characters and thus almost invisible, is simply stunning, about as close to flawless as any reader could ask for and any writer, at any age or stage, could hope for and aspire to.... The literary territory that Dorothy Allison has set out to explore is dangerous turf, a minefield strewn with booby traps where the least false step could lead to disaster. It is a great pleasure to see her succeed, blithe and graceful as Baryshnikov in performance....Allison can be deeply moving, yet she is never sentimental.... Please reserve a seat of honor at the high table of the art of fiction for Dorothy Allison. --New York Times

Product Details

Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
Edition description:
Unabridged, 4 Cassettes
Product dimensions:
4.30(w) x 7.08(h) x 1.71(d)

What People are Saying About This

Barbara Kingsolver
"For anyone who has ever felt the contempt of a self-righteous world, this book will resonate within you like a gospel choir. For anyone who hasn't, this book will be an education."
Blanche McCrary Boyd
"Dorothy Allison has an elegantly unpretentious style, raw intensity and a great big heart. In Bastard Out of Carolina she tells a horrific story without malice or self-pity. I read her work with admiration and with respect."

Meet the Author

Dorothy Allison is the acclaimed author of the nationally bestselling novel Bastard Out of Carolina, which was a finalist for the 1992 National Book Award. The recipient of numerous awards, she lives in Northern California.

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Bastard Out of Carolina 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 97 reviews.
songcatchers More than 1 year ago
Bastard Out of Carolina tells the tale of a young girl named Bone. Hers is a tale of physical and sexual abuse that grows steadily more violent until the explosive end of the book. It's also about her family, the Boatwrights. The big scary uncles, who adore Bone, are always drunk and shoot up each others trucks for fun. And the aunts, who always stick together whether they are picking over beans or taking care of each others children. Bone is a happy little girl until her mother gets married to Daddy Glen. Daddy Glen is very gentle with Bone at first. Things gradually go bad though when he starts physically abusing and molesting Bone. Bastard Out of Carolina is about the decisions we all make and the effects of those decisions on your children. It's about the meaning of family and loyalty. This is a serious book dealing with some hard subject matter. It's never easy to read about abuse, especially when it's a child involved, but Bastard Out of Carolina is definitely worth a read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was an amazing book. It kept me turning the pages wanting to see what would happen to Bone. I was so angry at times, the book brought so many emotions out of me. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone. It was very realistic and it left me thinking even after it ended. I would read it again too, it was that good. It made me think of our society and what we need to do to protect and save girls like Bone. Please read the book but be prepared some parts will make you laugh and others will make you angry and emotional.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was very difficult for me to read this book, learning what Bone had to go through. I felt the writing and character development was excellent. I grew up in the Carolinas, and I would not be surprised at how many 'real' domestic situations exist, that are exactly like this one. I no longer live in the South, and although I am proud to have grown up there and love my family, some of the 'backwoods' thought processes are far too common there. I was very unsympathetic to the young mother in this story, and the way that she dealt with Bone's abusive relationship with Glen. I hated Glen's character, but I hated the young mother even more for allowing it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The story pulled me right in, I was so concerned for the little girl I had to keep reading to find out her fate. However, this was a very depressing and somewhat disturbing. There were parts of the book that made feel so lonely, just like the character I was reading about. If you like dysfunctional and realistic, you will love this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'd rank this book as a classic of 'To Kill A Mockingbird' caliber. Both stories deal, and unflinchingly so, with taking a hard look at why we make the choices we make, and how those choices mold us and affect the ones around us, especially our children. I believe Dorothy Allison once said that if the writer tells enough about a character, there's a chance that the reader may love them. I found myself fascinated by each of these characters and thought the manner in which Allison probes their individual thought processes was exceptional, especially given that this is a first-person narrative. That's how you can tell this is autobiographical. Bone's understanding of those around her, especially her mother, shows us that Allison has given the situations she's lived through a lot of thought even before she picked up a pen. The reader may given into their own anger, especially during the final harrowing chapters, but Dorothy does not. She transcends it. That makes for a story that will burn into your memory. A cliche, I know, but you CANNOT shake this story. It will make you laugh, cry, and absolutely furious, but its worth it. Read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is sad but eloquent story that was a recent book club selection at my local bookstore. There is strong and vivid imagery. It may be too harsh for young adults; but one in my group seemed quite taken with the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read for entertainment - this was not entertaining. I know these things happen and my heart breaks for those who goes thru it. Her mother should have put a stop to lt.
JgleJne More than 1 year ago
i hadn't went out to buy this book or knew of Dorothy Allison...it was a reading assignment for my college english class...and was i surprised! this book took me on highs and lows in each chapter. you felt so strongly for the characters in the book...you actually felt like you could reach out and touch them and feel with them. I cried so hard through this book with the young character explaining her life and trials she had to deal with.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finished this book and I loved it and hated it....I loved it because of how the character (bone) was able to overcome what happened to her and try and hold her head up high...but I hated it because it made me realize what does go on in some homes and what some children go through....but overall it was a great book.
Anonymous 10 days ago
At times it was hard to read, but it was a great book. The story was a good one.
Anonymous 5 months ago
This book made my heart ache and rang true at every word
Anonymous 5 months ago
For me, the book was excellent. The characters were well developed. It held my attention, but..near the end, the story line faltered some and took a couple of chapters to get back on track. All in all, I'd read it again.
jaffa67 More than 1 year ago
All I can say is: WOW! Once I started, I couldn't put it down! Reminiscent of "To Kill a Mockingbird", but better written. It tells the tale that no one wants told, the sort of thing people tend to cover up and sweep under the rug. A child born into poverty, who doesn't know she's poor, to a single mother who works all hours to support them. The mother marries a man who everyone else knows is no good, and the man gradually starts abusing the girl, first physically and then sexually. The mother prefers to look the other way and believe all his stories about how her daughter got the broken bones and bruises. She never seems to question the daughter too closely about what happened. Great drama, I highly recommend this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Count me as one of the disappointed readers. I don't find this book to be of the same caliber as To Kill a Mockingbird at all. It's not that compelling of a story IMO. I'm sorry to say I didn't care for Bone; didn't hate her but didn't like her either. These people were trashy mountain folk and the abuse did not surprise me, only that it didn't happen on a regular basis. It appears that several years went by between the first and second incidents. I know girls who were abused daily from a young age. Their moms also preferred to blame the victim and even compete with her, sick as that is. So this seemed mild in comparison, not that I condone abuse, EVER. It appears that a lot of people like this book, so I can't say don't read it, just don't expect TKAM or anything of that ilk.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked this for Bone and the sterotypes and tragedies that she underwent. The author tackled sexual and physical abuse with ease. Family dynamics at full play here.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading the overview and the 45 reviews with an average of 4 out of 5 stars l felt confident and eager to purchase this book.At the begining a ton of mostly relative's names are thrown out there which made my head spin but the pace was good but I guess when Bone met Shannon is when it started draggin'-to tell you the truth it was like this Shannon chick came out of nowhere.I thought about going back to see how she entered the story but with my lack of intrest starting I thought I'd pick up some hint and just keep moving on.There are 287pgs. and I'm on pg.181and Rayleen has entered the picture.She was mentioned in some of the reviews with alot of praise so I'm hoping things will start picking up.If you hear back from me that will be a good thing.For now 2 stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
amazing book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book has alot of hidden messages inside of it. I had to read it for a class in my college and fell in love with the book! Instead of reading just the chapters our teacher wanted us to I read the whole book! The love and despair in this book was truly heart wrenching. Amazing read!
KDH_Reviews More than 1 year ago
I first watched the movie Bastard Out of Carolina on Lifetime. At the time, I had no idea it was a book. I didn’t come across this knowledge until some time last year. I very vaguely remembered watching the movie (it had probably been ten years or more) and liking it. So of course I needed to read the book. I debated watching the movie again before reading the book, but ultimately decided against it as I wanted to read the book with the freshest eyes possible. However, I will watch the movie again after writing this review. I will admit that I put off reading this book for a long while. It sat on my to-read shelf, taunting me. From what I remembered, it was going to be a hard story to read. And it was. It was gritty and raw, but it was oh so worth it. I feel like I just waited for the perfect time (though I didn’t know it was the perfect time) to read it. I’m so glad that I finally picked this book up to read. You may be hesitant to pick up this book since it deals with abuse, but don’t let that deter you from reading a good book. It’s always hard to read about abuse (especially dealing with children), but sometimes it’s worth it. While I find it hard to say, the story can be beautifully (for lack of a better word) written and really touch you. This story is one of those. Be sure to check out my blog, KDH Reviews, for all of my reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the type of book people read and are changed for the better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I first became aware of this story when the movie originally aired on cable years ago. It was disturbing then as it is now. The book gets kind of slow more than half way in & then it quickly comes to its conclusion. As with the movie and book I kept saying to myself "what is wrong with Bone's mother that she can't see that disgusting man hates her child ?!" As with life there is no happily ever after. It left me wanting to know more about what type of woman Bone grew up to be & if she ever reunited with her mother. Again, this was a very good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A book that every young girl should read. Very good lessons on loving yourself as well as how complicated family can be. A wonderful book that will make you think with your heart, mind, and soul.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago