Blog: Another Read Through

September Book Review

February 4, 2016 // monthly book review

Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison; 5 stars (out of 5); read in September 2015

This book is breathtaking. In the breadth and depth of the story and content as well as the writing. I wish I wasn’t rushed to finish it because I want to read this one slowly; it deserves to be read slowly. It is so full of emotion (mostly pain, but some hope) that it should be read and sat with, and I didn’t really get to do that. but I so appreciate what she has done here – shining a light on abuse and violence in a way that was so important when this was written. She shows such a personal story of living with violence, but also how the community supports and fails the people in it. How inescapable certain things seem – and maybe are – but also the potential people have.

I don’t know what I want to say. This book is powerful and beautiful in all the ugliness and so hard and necessary to read. There are only (can I say that?) a few parts that were brutal (although in my memory of it, the entire book was this way, so they are awfully tough and they are memorable) to read, but oh there is so much heartbreak here. As a reader invested in the characters you want so badly for certain things to happen, but as a reader who wants the truth you know that it can’t turn out that way. And it wrecks you.

“Mama smiled, joked, slapped ass, and firmly passed back anything that looked like a down payment on something she didn’t want to sell.”

“Moving gave me a sense of time passing and everything sliding, as if nothing could be held on to anyway. It made me feel ghostly, unreal and unimportant, like a box that goes missing and then turns up but you realize you never needed anything in it anyway.”

“‘They want you, oh yes, they want you. Till they get you. An’t nothing in this world more useless than a hardworking religious fool. It an’t that you get religion. Religion gets you and then milks you dry. Won’t let you drink a little whiskey. Won’t let you make no fat-assed girls grin and giggle. Won’t let you do a damn thing except work for what you’ll get in the hereafter. I live in the here and now, and I need my sleep on a Sunday morning. But I’ll tell you, Bone, I like it that they want me, Catholics and Baptists and Church of Gods and Methodists and Seventh-Day Adventists, all of them hungry for my dirty white hide, my pitiful human soul. Hell! None of them would give two drops of piss for me if I was already part of their saggy-assed congregations.'”

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