Publishers Weekly, 1992-01-27 Allison's remarkable country voice emerges in a first novel spiked with pungent characters ranging from the slatternly to the grotesque, and saturated with sense of place--Greenville, S.C. Ruth Anne Boatwright, 13, got the nickname Bone at birth, when she was tiny as a knucklebone, and the tag acquires painful derivatives, like ``Bonehead.'' While her mother, Annie, a waitress, tries vainly to get the word ``illegitimate'' scrubbed from Bone's birth certificate, her tobacco-spitting granny reminds her she's a bastard. The identity of her real father, whom granny drove away, is kept from her. Surrounded by loving aunts and uncles, Bone still endures ridicule (she's homely, she has no voice for gospel singing) and--from vicious Daddy Glen, her mother's new husband--beatings and sexual abuse. Bone takes refuge in petty crime, like breaking into Woolworth's, and finds her truest friend in unmarried Aunt Raylene, who once had a great love for another woman. Annie gently defends Daddy Glen, blaming her daughter, until the tale's inevitably brutal climax. Mental and physical cruelty to women forms a main theme, illuminated by the subplot of pathetic albino Shannon Pearls, her story rife with Southern gothic overtones. Allison, author of the well-received short story collection Trash , doesn't condescend to her ``white trash'' characters; she portrays them with understanding and love. (Apr.)
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