Thursday, July 02, 2015

[Book Review] Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison

Reader’s Advisory Gay and Lesbian Fiction Genre Review

Donna reviews BASTARD OUT OF CAROLINA by Dorothy Allison (Dutton, 1992)

While a well-written and enjoyable book, it is much like a reality TV show on what is commonly referred to as poor white trash.  The book is written from the viewpoint of a young girl, Ruth Ann Boatwright, from about eight years old to around 13 years old. Tales are woven of her life and the life of her adult relatives. Tales of tragedy, comedy, indifference, revenge, love, survival, violence and relationships both good and bad in so many different levels abound in this work. These tales of the Boatwright family describe a Carolina family of poor white relatives who drink, fight, go from job to job, and house to house just trying to get by.

Allison has you living in this southern clan’s culture as you read through each misadventure, anticipating the next family train wreck around the bend. She has a particular way of making you feel as if you are sitting on the porch sipping iced tea with the characters, passing down their history to the young, and explaining away or giving insight to the poor decisions and actions of the various relatives that make them the broken people they are.

This is a great book with an ending that makes you want to know the ancestors of these characters and their stories. It also leaves you realizing this story is set up to continue for even more generations of the same.  

Can the brokenness end?

Donna, Whitehaven Library

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