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Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
In Salvage the Bones, Esch Batiste is a 14-year-old black girl who is poor, pregnant, and motherless in rural Mississippi. Esch's love is for the father of her baby, who wants nothing to do with her, as well as her love for literature. Her father is a drunk and her brothers have dreams of their own, from a basketball career to fighting dogs. It's a hardscrabble life filled with family, passion, and violence. To make matters worse, Hurricane Katrina is bearing down on their home. Jesmyn Ward's novel has received positive reviews with the San Francisco Chronicle saying "It can also feel, as it hemorrhages with intense suffering, airless, and very occasionally overwritten. What rescues it is its breakneck pace. No intermissions, no bits of levity let us get our breath. That, too, may be part of its bravery. By the time the storm arrives, a reader might reasonably think she's braced for horror. She would be wrong. Ward orchestrates a power and scale so furious, so consuming - with an aftermath of such utter ruin - we can honestly feel, like the Batistes, we never saw it coming."
Winner of the 2011 National Book Award for fiction