Bastard Out of Carolina, Paperback Book

Bastard Out of Carolina Paperback

Part of the Penguin Modern Classics series

5 out of 5 (1 rating)


'About as close to flawless as any reader could ask for' The New York Times Book Review'For anyone who has ever felt the contempt of a self-righteous world, this book will resonate within you like a gospel choir.

For anyone who hasn't, this book will be an education' Barbara Kingsolver Carolina in the 1950s, and Bone - christened Ruth Anna Boatwright - lives a happy life, in and out of her aunt's houses, playing with her cousins on the porch, sipping ice tea, loving her little sister Reece and her beautiful young mother.

But Glen Waddell has been watching them all, wanting her mother too, and when he promises a new life for the family, her mother gratefully accepts.

Soon Bone finds herself in a different, terrible world, living in fear, and an exile from everything she knows.

Bastard Out of Carolina is a raw, poignant tale of fury, power, love and family.This editon contains an introduction by the author.

Dorothy Allison was awarded the 2007 Robert Penn Warren Award for Fiction, and has been likened to Flannery O'Connor, William Faulkner and Harper Lee.


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This book is so raw, painful, gutsy, vivid and honest it leaves a hole in your heart. Semi-autobiographical, this is the story of Bone, a child born to southern 'white trash' in Carolina, to a family where illegitimacy, criminality, abuse and hopelessness are a way of life, part of an inevitable cycle that passes from generation to generation. But this is so much more than yet another survival memoir - this is flawless fiction which I would go so far as to say is of a standard up there with To Kill a Mockingbird (and I don't say that lightly).Everything in this novel is so vivid. The physical surroundings - the dilapidated houses in the wrong part of town, the dirt ingrained in the window sills, the grassless yards, iced tea on rotting porches, trash floating up the weed encrusted river, the meals of biscuits and gravy, the country music peppering evenings on the porch, the hot days and cool nights. The Boatwright family themselves - the uncles who fall in and out of jobs and jail; the aunts with umpteen kids and no expectations; the forthright granny who pulls no punches; the mother who compartmentalises her love for her child from her love for the man who is destroying that child. Allison so deftly gets under the skin of the complexities of poverty and abuse, of choiceless existences, of the strength and complications of family love in this environment, of how the impact of all of this can inevitably set out a child's path in life from far too early an age. It's makes for difficult reading in parts - it touches on realities most of us would prefer to sweep under the carpet than visualise, but it's profoundly impacting, bringing the hidden violence of our communities out into the open. There's no warm, fuzzy feeling by the end of this book - this is a book to immensely respect and appreciate. I don't know about the rest of the world, but it's certainly under the radar in the UK, and most undeservedly so.5 stars. An immense writing achievement.

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