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Every Bone a Prayer: Book summary and reviews of Every Bone a Prayer by Ashley Blooms

Every Bone a Prayer

by Ashley Blooms

Every Bone a Prayer by Ashley Blooms X
Every Bone a Prayer by Ashley Blooms
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About this book

Book Summary

Misty's holler looks like any of the thousands of hollers that fork through the Appalachian Mountains. But Misty knows her home is different. She may be only ten, but she hears things. Even the crawdads in the creek have something to say, if you listen.

All that Misty's sister Penny wants to talk about are the strange objects that start appearing outside their trailer. The grown-ups mutter about sins and punishment, but that doesn't scare Misty. Not like the hurtful thing that's been happening to her, the hurtful thing that is becoming part of her. Ever since her neighbor William cornered her in the barn, she must figure out how to get back to the Misty she was before ― the Misty who wasn't afraid to listen.

This is the story of one tough-as-nails girl whose choices are few but whose fight is boundless, as her coping becomes a battle cry for everyone around her. Written by a survivor of sexual abuse, Every Bone a Prayer is a beautifully honest exploration of healing and of hope.

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Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Misty's idea of inner names includes memories and sounds, things remembered and lost. What does that mean to you? Can you think of anything that would be a part of your name?
  2. Compare Misty's and William's home lives. How are they each coping with the challenges of their families? Do they understand each other?
  3. Misty thinks her family only notices her when she's sad or hurt. Have you ever felt like that? What did you do?
  4. Why do you think Misty decides to tell her mother about Penny kissing the green glass man? Was there another choice she could have made?
  5. Do you think that corporal punishment is ever justified for children? Besides the physical pain, what does Misty notice and remember about being whipped with the switch?
  6. How does the...

You can see the full discussion here. This discussion will contain spoilers!

Some of the recent comments posted about Every Bone a Prayer:

Do you think that corporal punishment is ever justified for children? Besides the physical pain, what does Misty notice and remember about being whipped with the switch?
I don't think it's justified. In the case with Misty and Penny, I think the mother was taking out her anger and frustration with the problems in her life on her daughters. Nothing positive could come out of the kind of beating described in that ... - Harley's Mom

How did you feel after reading the introduction? How did knowing the author was an abuse survivor herself influence your reading of the book?
Having just read other responses to the book I have to say I was unfamiliar with the term magical fantasy. I agree it did nothing to enhance the book as I kept searching for the symbolism and that was a distraction. I also feel that writing this ... - irisf

How do you believe the book's setting in Appalachia affected the story? Have you visited or lived in that part of the United States, and if so, what was your experience like?
I have lived in Appalachia, and have family roots in Southwest Virginia and Kentucky. While I agree that an Appalachian community made sense as the setting, I think this was a surface level connection between plot and place. I have found a lot of ... - analisea

How do you feel Misty, Penny and William are each coping with the challenges of their families? Do you think they understand each other?
Each of them copes with extremely dysfunctional families. Misty withdraws and buries her deepest feelings sharing them only with nature and spirits. She is so unhappy and your heart breaks for her. Penny just wants to live elsewhere. William is very ... - dianeh

How does the environment interact with Misty's emotions? Do you feel like you have a special connection to anything in particular (nature, a specific place, animals, etc.), and if so, why do you think this is?
Nature is always changing but never opposing the change. Nature can just let things be and not have to "fix" anything...that is why nature can be so calming. There's an aspect of nature that you can rely on...it's there, it will always be there, it... - Jessica F

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"If Southern Gothic masters Carson McCullers and William Faulkner were to…co-write a book, they might come close to this, but only just." - NPR

"Every Bone a Prayer evokes the magic of my favorite childhood stories—thrilling, but eerie—but it's also a painful, beautiful, and necessary examination of trauma and autonomy." - BuzzFeed

"[A] lyrical, hopeful story of healing." - POPSUGAR

"This searing story of sexual assault, healing, and hope tells an all-too-common story is a stunningly unique way." - Good Housekeeping

"Wonderfully terrifying, intimate, and magical." - Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy: An American Memoir

"A beautifully rendered coming-of-age tale for a wide range of readers." - Library Journal

"I couldn't stop reading Ashley Blooms' raw-boned language that carried me on young Misty's journey. While the weight on her skin threatened to take her under, the current of hope had me rooting for Misty to rise up. I can't wait to see this book shoot into the stratosphere." - Leah Weiss, author of If the Creek Don't Rise

"I have loved Every Bone a Prayer since I saw an early draft years ago; loved Misty, her family, her secret talents, and the way she sees the world around her, from the crawfish in muddy water to the ghostly trees she runs past in the night, to the trailer park where she and her family barely survive. This is a book and a writer I highly recommend." - Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard out of Carolina

"Ashley Blooms sings in an authentic mountain voice that reminds me of another great coal-country elegist: whatever the family Bible may record, she and Hazel Dickens are surely the closest of kin. Like a hawk over a hollow, Blooms both soars and sees all." - Andy Duncan, author of An Agent of Utopia

"Haunting and healing, Every Bone A Prayer is a powerful debut that will leave its mark on readers' hearts." - Kim Michele Richardson, New York Times bestselling author of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

"Ashley Blooms's debut novel, Every Bone a Prayer, is a brilliant and powerful book. Misty's story is full of magic and heartbreak, sorrow and strength. This is a vital story, beautifully written, and one I highly recommend." - Kat Howard, Alex Award-winning author of An Unkindness of Magicians

"There's magic in this book - and pain, and beauty, and horror - but the magic is what will keep you glued to the page, and have your heart singing the whole way." - Sam J. Miller, Nebula-Award-winning author of Blackfish City

"Every Bone a Prayer is beautifully written and absolutely harrowing from first page to last. It's unlike anything you've ever read before, and you will be mesmerized by it. Misty is among the most endearing characters I've met on the written page in a long while and I won't forget her anytime soon. This haunting debut announces the arrival of one of the most original and exciting new voices in literature." - Silas House, author of Clay's Quilt and Southernmost

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Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Anl

Different
This is the story of the fantasy world a ten year old creates to deal with her difficult life in poverty. It includes sexual abuse. There are many positives in this young ladies life - especially sense of family. If I had one criticism of the writing, it would be too much energy spent on her fantasy world.

RebeccaR

Loved the Basic Story
The lovely prose of Ashley Blooms’s book as well as the basic story line about the struggles of children living in the Appalachian Mountain hollers were 5 star. I immediately wanted to get to know Charlene, Misty and Penny, ages 8,10, and 12, respectively. I also thoroughly enjoyed Samantha who announces she is "Sam...everybody thinks I'm a girl, but I'm not. That's not me." The response of Penny is a delightful illustration of how immediately accepting children can be when she says, "I reckon you ought to know who you are" (page 111). Gender issues are handled with great sensitivity, as are the physical assault scenes. In fact, with the latter, readers may wonder at times if what they think is happening is also the actuality.

I enjoyed young Misty’s connection to nature and all living creatures. A couple of times I thought about Lois Lowry’s middle grade book THE GIVER, where a person with special capabilities could give memories to another human and perhaps save a life by transmitting memories of warm sunshine while lost in a freezing blizzard. However, in EVERY BONE A PRAYER, the stream of consciousness writing may not be appealing to typical younger audiences. For example, one sentence fills most of a page in chapter 21 with Misty’s stream of consciousness memories of scents and sounds. And while fantasy is a popular category in YA novels, I question younger readers’ receptivity of the magical glass sculptures in Misty’s holler. For me, the glass sculptures took me out of Misty’s compelling story and are the reason for my overall rating of 4 stars instead of 5.

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Author Information

Ashley Blooms Author Biography

Ashley Blooms was born and raised in Cutshin, Kentucky. She received her MFA as a John and Renee Grisham Fellow at the University of Mississippi. Her short stories have appeared in The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Strange Horizons, among others. Her nonfiction has appeared in the Oxford American. She's been awarded scholarships from the Clarion Writer's Workshop and Appalachian Writer's Workshop, served as fiction editor for the Yalobusha Review, and worked as an editorial intern and first reader for Tor.com.

She currently lives in rural Kentucky with her partner and dog, where she is at work on a middle grade book.

Author Interview

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Every Bone a Prayer
by Ashley Blooms

The the story of one tough-as-nails girl whose choices are few but whose fight is boundless.

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