Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
To my own surprise, this is the first book I have read about Hurricane Katrina. Although, to call it "a book about hurricane Katrina" would be doing it a disservice, as it is about much more than that. I would be much more inclined to say that it is a book about the impoverished culture of Bois Sauvage, or a book about dog fighting, or a book about family dynamics. It's about a girl and her brothers, or a boy and his dog. It's about the theme of birth, and about the theme of destruction, the promise of life and the struggle against death.
The character I both loved and hated the most was Skeetah's dog China; Ward does an excellent job describing both the savagery and the beauty of such a dog, as well as the loyalty that can develop between dog and master.
My main issue with Ward's writing is that she loves similes and metaphors just a little too much. It's beautiful writing, I will not deny her that. However, while I was captivated by her most poignant and perfectly placed literary devices, she often took me out of "the moment" with an overabundance of "his back was like a reed" and "her stomach protruded like a melon." What's most striking of all is that the metaphors and similes were usually not trite! There were just too many of them clogging up the progress of the story.
All in all, though, I am not sorry at all to have read Salvage the Bones. I can imagine it becoming a historical text, used as a literary reference to Hurricane Katrina, for years to come.
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