Bastard Out of Carolina

Bastard Out of Carolina

Book - 1993
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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.
Publisher: New York : Plume, 1993, c1992
ISBN: 9780452269576
Characteristics: 309 p. ; 21 cm


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JCLBeckyC Mar 28, 2019

This novel is a triumph. I read it over twenty years ago and it still haunts me. Recommended for fans of Harper Lee, Flannery O'Connor, and William Faulkner.

Jan 15, 2018

This book is NOT about the White South and poverty (although it contains brilliant descriptions of both).
It is, instead, about the universal conditions of childhood and the universal need for unconditional love.
If you think it is "about" the White South and poverty, you might have missed the point of the book.
One of the most important books I have ever read.

Sep 17, 2017

One of the reviews suggested that Allison's book, Bastard, was good but depressing. One would think child physical and sexual abuse is depressing. I found the book powerfully written and difficult to forget

Aug 18, 2017

In a lot of respects, this book is Deliverance: Home Edition. It captures what life is like for the kids of abusive and/or enabling parents. It also captures the stifling impact of lack of options for women in rural America during the 1950s. It is sobering to see a family celebrate and have pride in volatile, alcohol-fueled emotions rather than critical thought.

Given recent news reports right here in Mill Creek regarding bullies, child abuse, and domestic violence, it might be a good book for people seeking solutions to read. Abusive behavior is learned and passed from one generation to another like bad DNA. Yes, abuse happens behind the closed doors of educated, affluent folks.

A kid who is beaten behind closed doors will likely become a bully on the playground and an abusive boyfriend and husband. The rage and sense of impotence that Ruth Anne/Bone feels isn't a product of her impoverished childhood. It is a typical response of a kid who doesn't get real protection from horrendous abuse ~ physical or psychological. It is a typical response of a kid who knows on a soul-level that her enabling mother will choose the abusive husband over her daughter.

Jul 04, 2017

A voice to those that are or experienced abuse, neglect and family problems. But due to societal expectations, all family issues are consider private and not fixed. Good storyline of lower class whites living in Carolina with many struggles that they face that are not depicted or addressed by society.

multcolib_susannel Apr 01, 2017

Even though nine-year old Ruth Ann lived on a farm with rough and rowdy uncles and boy cousins, she didn't quite understand what it meant when her new stepfather pulled her on his lap and began to 'play' with her.

Jul 19, 2016

This book disturbed my sense of justice in the world but certainly illuminated a new sense of compassion. Bastard Out of Carolina is set in the South and is about a poor white girl, nicknamed Bone, who gets abused by her step father. The book is told from Bone's perspective and demonstrates how abuse can get internalized by a child and how it results in disturbing hatred in the heart of the survivor.

Bastard has the American-Southern style of plain and direct language with complex and struggling characters. And despite focusing primarily on a terrible saga in a child's life there are also sweet moments that show the support network of Bone's extended family including a heroic scene with her Aunt Raylene who grounds Bone's trauma with love and righteous protection. Dorothy Allison also lets hope and healing shine in chapter ten with her stirring admiration for gospel music which allows Bone to find some respite in her abuse.

This book brought me into a world I am grateful to have never encountered but was valuable to vicariously witness the damage of abuse in a raw and uncompromising way. And for survivors of abuse the chilling vision that justice does not always prevail is probably a helpful reality check with which to commiserate.

WVMLStaffPicks Dec 30, 2014

Gritty realism of life in the southern U.S. Poverty defines the characters and limits their options, but their strength of character is wonderful.

Dec 26, 2014

good book but depressing

Nov 29, 2014

Beautiful and tragic, pulls no punches.
Allison really captures the impotent rage, confusion, and sadness a child must feel when they are in a terrible situation they have no way of controlling.
it's hard not to hate the mother character

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