Nominated by:

Kansas City Public Library, USA

New Hampshire State Library, Concord, USA

Publisher of nominated edition:

Bloomsbury, USA

Salvage the Bones

Jesmyn Ward    

A hurricane is building over the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the coastal town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, and Esch’s father is growing concerned. A hard drinker, largely absent, he doesn’t show concern for much else. Esch and her three brothers are stocking food, but there isn’t much to save. Lately, Esch can’t keep down what food she gets; she’s fourteen and pregnant. Her brother Skeetah is sneaking scraps for his prized pitbull’s new litter, dying one by one in the dirt. Meanwhile, brothers Randall and Junior try to stake their claim in a family long on child’s play and short on parenting.

As the twelve days that make up the novel’s framework yield to their dramatic conclusion, this unforgettable family-motherless children sacrificing for one another as they can, protecting and nurturing where love is scarce-pulls itself up to face another day. A big-hearted novel about familial love and community against all odds, and a wrenching look at the lonesome, brutal, and restrictive realities of rural poverty, Salvage the Bones is muscled with poetry, revelatory, and real.

(From Publisher)

About the Author

Jesmyn Ward grew up in DeLisle, Mississippi. She received her MFA from the University of Michigan, where she won five of the school’s esteemed Hopwood awards for essays, drama, and fiction. Ward was the recipient of a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford and is currently the John and Renée Grisham Visiting Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi. Her debut novel, Where the Line Bleeds, was an Essence Magazine Book Club selection, a Black Caucus of the ALA Honor Award recipient, and a finalist for both the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.

Librarians’ Comments

Salvage the Bones is a powerful, beautifully written story about love. Love among siblings; the misplaced love of 15-year-old Esch (the narrator) for the father of her unborn child; the love of a man for his lost wife; and the all-consuming love between a largely abandoned boy and his dog.

A stark and fierce story of family loyalty and survival during the devastation of hurricane Katrina. Complex characters in a beautiful and savage world.

Related Entries