Greenville County, South Carolina, a wild, lush place, is home to the Boatwright family—rough-hewn men who drink hard and shoot up each other's trucks, and indomitable women who marry young and age all too quickly. At the heart of this astonishing novel is Ruth Anne Boatwright, known simply as Bone, a South Carolina bastard with an annotated birth certificate to tell the tale. Observing everything with the mercilessly keen eye of a child, Bone finds herself caught in a family triangle that will test the loyalty of her mother, Anney. Her stepfather, Daddy Glen, calls Bone "cold as death, mean as a snake, and twice as twisty," yet Anney needs Glen. At first gentle with Bone, Daddy Glen becomes steadily colder and more furious—until their final, harrowing encounter, from which there can be no turning back.If sexual abuse is a trigger for you...this may not be one to pick up. That said, I expected this book to be vividly horrible to read, but it really wasn't. The abuse takes place over a few instances in the books rather than being a constant. There's also abundant humor and quirkiness provided by Bone's family...specifically her aunts and uncles. They are rogueish and ridiculous and funny but maybe not soooo unusual if you grew up the way I did.
This book took me back to my childhood in such vivid ways. Before cell phones, before streaming TV, before computers and digital STUFF everywhere. While we didn't have a lot of money, we had food on the table and the clothes we needed. There was no abuse in my life. However, those things were around me growing up. I had uncles in trouble with the law, cousins who couldn't leave the cycle of abusive spouses.
It's hard for many people to understand WHY individuals become stuck in cycles of poverty and abuse. Why some people stay there willingly, and this book humanizes and normalizes those experiences so much. In a way that I find really hard to put into words.
I grew up on the edge of the digital age. I grew up in a time when it was becoming easy and commonplace to go to college. That's not the case for the characters in this book, and Allison does such a beautiful, admirable job of explaining these characters and allowing us to live within their experiences for a while. The choices some of these folks make are so disappointing, but in their disappointment they are illuminating because it helped me understand how and why they might've done those things. There's rarely a higher compliment I can give an author. To step outside of ourselves is a remarkable thing. Truly.
Pub. Date: January 1992
Publisher: Turtleback Books
Format: Trade Paperback
Source: Bought it sooo long ago.
I actually might be slightly more insightful in my video this time around, so here 'tis.