Who wrote this book and when?
Dorothy Allison. 1993

Has there been a film version?
Yes, in 1996.

Who are the important characters?
Ruth Anne “Bone” – the narrator and our protagonist, a young girl who is abused and molested by her stepfather
Anney – Bone’s mother, a woman struggling to find love and satisfaction
Papa Glen – Bone’s abusive stepfather, he has serious anger issues
Reese – Bone’s younger sister
Raylene – Bone’s strange and eccentric aunt
Alma – another of Bone’s aunts
Earle – Bone’s favorite uncle
Ruth – Bone’s aunt, dying of cancer

What’s it about?
Bone is singled out starting at birth. Her father is MIA, so she’s labeled an illegitimate child by the state, despite her mother’s attempts to get it revoked. As Bone and then her sister, Reese, grow up, they watch their mom become hardened to life as she is widowed and forced to work impossible hours to keep her family alive. When Glen enters the picture, Anney falls hard for him as he seems to take a special interest in the girls. They get married and everything goes well until Anney miscarries and is rendered unable to bear any more children. Glen begins to get abusive and explosively angry – forcing Bone to act out.

Why is this book a classic/bestseller?
It graphically tells the story of a girl who is emotionally, physically, and sexually abused by a parent and the process she goes through as she is damaged.

Do I recommend you read this book?
Ummmm, it was very good, but extremely graphic and disturbing.

How did this book make my list?
It was on the list of challenged books.

Has it won any awards?
I don’t think so.

Favorite quotes:
“Family is family, but even love can’t keep people from eating at each other.” – p 10

“It’s the way of things. One day you’re all family together, fighting and hugging from one moment to the next, and then it’s all gone. You’re off making your own family, scared of what’s coming next, and Lord, things have a way of running faster and faster all the time.” – p 89

“I wanted something – Jesus or God or orange-blossom scent or dark chocolate terror in my throat.” – p 151

“Things come apart so easily when they have been held together with lies.” – p 248

Anything else?
This is semi-autobiographical.

Personal thoughts:
I enjoyed this book, despite the content. It reminded me of a Toni Morrison book in that it dealt with tough subjects, but it didn’t pander for sympathy like I feel a lot of Morrison’s books do. It was straightforward – told in the speech of a young girl – with her adjectives, metaphors, and emotions. I was completely enamored with the Boatwright extended family. They were all so very different from each other, but their personalities stemmed naturally from their upbringing and circumstances. They were brimming with emotion and energy and turmoil – no matter what, something was always going on. And I think they are a large part of what I loved about this book, being so rough but so loving at the same time in contrast to how Glen felt he was “loving” Bone.