Salvage the Bones

Salvage the Bones

A Novel

Book - 2011
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Enduring a hardscrabble existence as the children of alcoholic and absent parents, four siblings from a coastal Mississippi town prepare their meager stores for the arrival of Hurricane Katrina while struggling with such challenges as a teen pregnancy and a dying litter of prize pups.
Publisher: New York : Bloomsbury, 2011.
ISBN: 9781608195220
Characteristics: 261 p. ;,22 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Dec 01, 2018

Jesmyn Ward is a stand out Author! Brilliant writing style, I felt like I was near this family and had to live through the hurricane to reach the end of the book. Her complex characters live in poverty. They range from brilliant, caring then at times animal like. Esch often used Greek mythology to relate to her, family, friends and her surrounding. This family could be labeled dysfunctional. Esch had no role models for growing up other than men and boys. In the end strong family/friend bonds shine through. Maybe it is enough....

Aug 22, 2018

Ward's comment about her frustrations with white normative literature holding claim to the "classics" like Greek Mythology is so fascinating and accurate. Those timeless tales belong to humanity and are race-neutral just as Esch's fascination with Medea's is, as it courses through the book.
This book is similarly universal: it's simply about the bonds of family in the wake of their mother's death and in the face of the impending Hurricane Katrina.
This is an absolute must-read. Ms. Ward, what a treasure!

Aug 16, 2018

Such a wonderful writer - such a bleak book.

Jul 02, 2018

A dreadful book. I couldn't stay with it long enough to get to the part about the hurricane. The pictures the author paints of the lives of the characters is so unrelentingly ugly, depressing, violent, and hopeless that I had to give it up after 20 or so pages. I can't imagine why anybody would read this book.

Jun 10, 2018

I've been wanting to read another Jesmyn Ward novel after reading her latest book, Sing Unburied Sing; and Salvage The Bones seemed like the next best one. Although I didn't find this particular story to be as interesting as Sing Unburied Sing, I still enjoyed it. Jesmyn has a unique writing voice and I love how her novels focus on Black families living in rural Mississippi. She also weaves poetry into her stories, which some readers may or may not appreciate; but this is what helps set her novels apart from others. I'm looking forward to reading more of her novels.

May 06, 2018

This is a powerful novel, much better than her first, that will give you reason to love and respect this family, and fear the power of Katrina and all hurricanes. The bond between Skeeter and China is especially moving (and unexpected for most of us), and the ending suggests that bond is unending.

Highly recommended.

SPPL_Betsy Mar 09, 2018

Esch Batiste is a fourteen-year old girl quickly coming-of-age in an impoverished, coastal Mississippi town. Her mother died several years earlier, and she is left to live with her alcoholic father and three brothers. The story begins twelve days prior to Hurricane Katrina. The family is busy preparing for the storm as Esch experiences her own inner storm; she is pregnant. The full realization of her pregnancy occurs to Esch while watching her brother’s beloved pit pull give birth to puppies. The theme of motherhood continues to weave itself throughout the story as the Batiste children scramble to collect food and protect their home from the impending storm.

The winner of multiple awards, including the National Book Award for Fiction (2011), Salvage the Bones is an excellent choice for fans of literary fiction. The poetic nature of Ward’s writing, along with the emotional telling of one family’s endurance will appeal to those who enjoy thought-provoking, gripping story lines.

Mar 09, 2018

This is an exquisitely written novel that follows the narrator, 14-year-old Esch, her family, and friends over the course of 12 days. Set in Bois Sauvage (the Wild Woods), Mississippi, Jesmyn Ward's lyrical writing contrasts vividly with Esch's harsh and savage world.

From the loss of Esch's mother and her alcoholic father's rough indifference to the raw cruelty of dog-fighting, to the casual passion of sex and the fierce loyalty of her brothers, Ward creates characters and a story as unforgettable as Esch's beloved Greek mythology. It's not an easy read, but it's worth every minute.

Highly recommended.

vm510 Nov 30, 2017

This story is primarily about a young girl's heartbreak, her grief over her mother, and the isolation she feels even while surrounded by her brothers and father. It is a story about family and a story about this young girl trying to love and be loved. Ward's writing makes you feel like you are there: you smell, you taste, you hear every moment. The tension and anxiety builds from the beginning and then culminates with Hurricane Katrina's arrival.

JCLEmilyD May 11, 2017

This story sticks with you. It's about poverty, teenagers, family, dogs, love, and hurricanes. Written as a family works to prepare for the coming hurricane Katrina. Along with poverty and absent parents the children deal with teenage pregnancy and a dying litter of puppies. The impending tragedy of Katrina keeps you waiting as neglect and despairing poverty intertwine to tell the story of four children.

View All Comments


Add a Quote
Dec 27, 2018

Where my brothers go, I follow.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at Library

To Top