Advance reader reviews of Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward.

Salvage the Bones

A Novel

By Jesmyn Ward

Salvage the Bones
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2011,
    272 pages.

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There are currently 17 member reviews
for Salvage the Bones
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  • Kathy G. (Alamo, CA)


    Savage the Bones
    On one hand it is was hard to read about a poor Mississippi family, and on the other hand, the story turned out to be a moving portrayal of survival. It was often hard to read due to the hard edges of very difficult realities as seen through the eyes of children. I would recommend this book with reservation.
  • Claire M. (New York, NY)


    Salvage the Bones
    This is so well written that I even got through most of the dog fight. Narrated by a young girl, Esch, who describes her daily life in a swamp in Louisiana as Katrina comes closer and finally bears down on the poorest of the poor, it is a heartbreaking story but one that also shows the inner strength of our forgotten neighbors. Comparing herself to Medea in the way her own life unfolds, Esch lives out the treachery of living in poverty and the choices that are made. Metaphor, simile, and the gloriously descriptive use of language lead me to believe Jesmyn Ward will be telling stories for a long time.
  • Pamela B. (Monona, WI, WI)


    Salvage the Bones
    Salvage the Bones is not a happy tale. The story centers around a poor family in rural Mississippi, struggling after the death of the matriarch leaves them without direction. The siblings seem to live separate lives, but come together when needed. When life goes from bad to worse, the best comes out.
  • Tricia L. (Auburn, WA)


    Heartwrenching poverty and suffering in a powerful tale.
    Wow. This book put me right there watching the run-up and aftermath of Katrina. It is so eye-opening and yet I feel like there is hope for us all because of these brave characters. Great read.
  • Mary B. (Roswell, GA)


    Beautiful and Heartbreaking Story
    Salvage the Bones is the story of a family on the Gulf coast readying for Hurricane Katrina. The family is poor, black, motherless yet they work together to prepare for the hurricane, all of them doing the best they can.

    The main character is a young teenage girl, named Esch, who is struggling to accept a pregnancy while longing for a confidante or some kind of help for her seemingly impossible situation. She is smitten with the baby's father, but he doesn't love her. The story of Medea is interwoven into the narrative. Will the girl betray her family for her lover or remain faithful to her father and brothers?

    The character of the father is fascinating. He is the only one who really understands the severity of the oncoming storm and although he works as hard as possible to protect his family and their home, tearing apart outbuildings and raiding wood from an abandoned house, he ends up being unable to do much for the family during the actual storm, serving as an example of the younger generation coming of age.

    One of the sons, Skeetah, has a white pit bull dog named China, who has a litter of puppies in the story. Skeetah nurtures her as if she were a lover, and a dangerous one at that. I had a hard time with the cruelty and violence of the dog fighting scenes, but the author does a good job of putting them into context of the narrative and letting you understand the motivations of members of the dog fighting culture.

    Overall, it is a story of a family's loyalty to each other in the face of a dangerous natural disaster. They manage to cope in the only ways that they can and in the end discover who in their community they can really trust.

    I would recommend this book to readers who like more serious and literary reading. This is not light beach book.
  • Judi S. (Boyes Hot Springs, CA)


    Salvage the Bones
    Salvage the Bones blew through my life much like Hurricane Katrina roared through Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, and the lives of the Batiste family.
    The day to day details of life for pregnant 14 year old Esch and her brothers are often brutal and difficult to read, but Ward's gorgeous writing and her ability to help us see through Esch's eyes and love with her heart make it worth the discomfort.
    I adore a strong character-driven book and Savage the Bones is bursting with heroes! This would be a fantastic choice for a book group. Savage the Bones shines a light on one of America's greatest tragedies and gives a voice to some of it's most invisible inhabitants.
  • Jean G. (Rockford, IL)


    Salvage the Bones
    This book was interesting enough to hold my attention but there was not enough depth to the characters to feel emotionally connected to the families' struggles. The prose style was overloaded with far out similes that did not help get to the heart of the story. Overall, a shallow slant on life in the time of Katrina but very readable because of a likable narrator. I did want to know how it ended. It would appeal to dog lovers.
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