A hurricane is building over the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the coastal town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, and Esch's father is growing concerned. He's a hard drinker, largely absent, and it isn't often he worries about the family. Esch and her three brothers are stocking up on food, but there isn't much to save. Lately, Esch can't keep down what ...
A hurricane is building over the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the coastal town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, and Esch's father is growing concerned. He's a hard drinker, largely absent, and it isn't often he worries about the family. Esch and her three brothers are stocking up on food, but there isn't much to save. Lately, Esch can't keep down what food she gets; at fifteen, she has just realized that she's pregnant. Her brother Skeetah is sneaking scraps for his prized pit bull's new litter, dying one by one. 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 a 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.
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But uplifting as well. I haven't cried during a read in 40 years, but this one choked me up. Excellent writing!
Sep 29, 2011
Love in Poverty
One of the best books I've read recently this story takes place before, during and after Hurricane Katrina.
It opens with the birth of China the pitbull's puppies and, through the eyes of Esch, the 12-year-old daughter of the family, it spins a story of love in poverty, trust and hardship.
Esch's family consists of all men. Her brother Skeetah, who owns, tends and nearly worships China, Randall, the oldest, a budding basketball star who takes care of the family when the father is too drunk to do so, and Junior is the smallest of the boys, by turns confused and hurt by life. China herself,is a main character and the money her puppies could bring would fulfill a dream for at least one family member.
The lead-up to the hurricane is desultory, she is a vague threat that no one seems to take too seriously. When she hits, she is terrifying and we're swept along in the fear and horror of her rage. Afterward, we wander the coast with her characters, awed and confused by the scale of the destruction. "There is a house sitting in the middle of the road, facing us, like it guards the secrets we will find farther in."
The prose is fluid and lovely even poetic at times. Read this book- a remarkable, well-written and touching story.
Publishers Weekly, 2011-05-23 Ward's poetic second novel (after Where the Line Bleeds) covers the 12 days leading up to Hurricane Katrina via the rich, mournful voice of Esch Batiste, a pregnant 14-year-old black girl living with her three brothers and father in dire poverty on the edge of Bois Sauvage, Miss. Stricken with morning sickness and dogged by hunger, Esch helps her drunken father prepare their home for the gathering storm. She also looks after seven-year-old Junior while her oldest brother, Randall, trains to win a scholarship to basketball camp, and middle son Skeet devotes himself to delivering and raising his fighting bitch China's pit bull puppies. All the while, Esch ponders whether she will have the baby and yearns for its father to love her "once he learns [her] secret." Esch traces in the minutiae of every moment of every scene of her life the thin lines between passion and violence, love and hate, life and death, and though her voice threatens to overpower the story, it does a far greater service to the book by giving its cast of small lives a huge resonance. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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