This is a heavy novel, but it deserves all the acclaim it has received and more. Dorothy Allison takes the reader into the mind of a ten-year-old girl, Bone, growing up in the middle-of-nowhere, South Carolina in the fifties. The women in Bone’s life are tough but rely on the men of Greenville County to support them. Bone’s mother marries an abusive man, and Bone, though a strong and quick-tempered young woman herself, has no choice but to endure the abuse for her mother’s sake. Over time, her stepfather gets steadily meaner and Bone grows more and more defiant. The conclusive interaction between Bone and “Daddy Glen” will leave a reader feeling drained and even weary.
Bastard Out of Carolina is certainly not a feel-good book, but the language is sincere. The speaker’s voice is hauntingly real. Bone’s point of view is raw and her vernacular amateur and child-like, but the reader has no choice but to believe the validity of the story.
I would recommend this book to those that enjoy an emotional page-turner or an honest rendering of a together-to-the-end country family.
Overall Quality: 8/10