Oct 21, 2014

Bastard Out of Carolina

by Dorothy Allison

Nicknamed 'Bone,' Ruth Anne's family is a sprawling clan of very very poor folks in southern Carolina. The men are notorious for being violent drunks, shifty men who can never seem to work their way out of poverty, no matter how hard they try (many don't even seem to care). The women are tough, bitter and fiercely loyal, keeping to their own. Bone doesn't know who her father is. Her sister's dad died in an accident, and the loss devastated her. When her mom falls for a new man, everyone wants her to have another chance. Even though they all seem to mistrust and despise him, they turn a blind eye to what's going on for her mother's sake. And Bone is the one who suffers. Her new 'Daddy' is an abusive man of the worst sort, and in a terribly twisted way, he makes Bone feel guilty for the violence and attention he fixes on her. I knew before I had read very far that something awful was going to happen in the end, and it did. A compelling read, with characters that tug at your heart, even as you cringe at the things they decide to do. Bone has a very difficult coming-of-age, growing up way too fast, living through devastating experiences. I found the ending, the mother's choice, appalling. I don't really understand it.This is a powerful book, but also one that's difficult to read. I am not sure I will ever want to open this book again. The afterward merits close attention, and I read it with appreciation. The author discusses the overlapping distinctions of memoirs and novels-based-on-fact, hints at her own efforts to deal with a painful past, the reaction schools and parents have had to her book, her response to that, her conviction that we need to hear this story. Girls in particular.

Rating: 3/5       320 pages, 1992

more opinions:
Estella's Revenge
A Guy's Moleskine Notebook


  1. I've got this book because the author is from the area we currently live in and the book takes place here. I've heard it's pretty gritty but I still hope to read it one day.

  2. This has always just seemed like a book that would be too ferocious for me. I know a lot of it's based on real life, which makes it sound even more difficult to read. I hate to be such a cowardly reader, but I've had an increasingly hard time with stories of abuse as I've gotten older and older.


Comments are screened due to spam.