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Salvage the Bones
by Jesmyn Ward

This beautiful yet often brutal novel is narrated by 15 year old Esch, who lives in deep poverty with her three brothers and alcoholic father in the rural coastal town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi. Desperate poverty and their father's neglect has led the four children to more or less raise themselves, developing close bonds in the process. The story takes place over twelve days that culminate in the devastation of hurricane Katrina. As the family struggles to prepare for the hurricane, Esch grapples with the fact that she is pregnant and her older brother Skeet struggles to keep alive his beloved fighting dog China and her litter of puppies.
Salvage the Bones is not a long novel, but it is an extremely rich one. Ward's prose is often poetic, and full of metaphors - there are a lot of layers to this novel. The characters are wonderfully drawn, and very real. I know I'm going to find myself wondering how they are doing as if they are living people. The bonds between Esch and her brothers are deep even if not often openly expressed. Esch's inner journey as she comes to terms with her pregnancy is very moving in all its complexity and nuance. There's nothing simplistic in this book.
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