Thursday, January 1, 2015

Salvage the Bones - by Jesmyn Ward

Taking place over a twelve-day period, as hurricane Katrina develops over the Gulf of Mexico, this novel tells the story of Esch, and her brothers and father as they prepare for the storm. While Esch's father has his children collecting wood scraps and filling water jugs they all have other things on their minds. Esch has just discovered that she is pregnant; brother Skeetah is busy taking care of a new litter of puppies; and Randall wants to go to basketball camp. When the disaster hits each of these takes on a different significance.

It was beginning to look as if I would not be blogging about this book, but five pages from the end I was thrown a bone, so to speak. As Esch, her brothers, and friend Big Henry survey the storm's damage - the complete destruction of their neighborhood - Esch notices Randall "pointing down the street, pointing something out to [her youngest brother] Junior, where the library was that he visited with his school once, maybe." Of course I am always on the lookout for libraries when I read, so this small passage might be easily missed by others, especially among the rest of descriptions of annihilation, but for me it shows a true sense of loss of potential, and a loss of safety net. Libraries often are places where people can go when disaster strikes, and there is no place else to go (just as the Ferguson, Missouri Public Library stayed open while the schools were closed). It is in the loss of the library that I see the loss of hope.

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