Book Recommendation: Salvage The Bones

13 Jun

I remember when I heard the word, “Katrina.”  I was in college and wrapped up in myself; like many college students.  If I’m honest, I didn’t really care about Katrina; she seemed like an inconvenience.  I said the right things like “oh what a tragedy,” but I wasn’t using my Spring Break to hop on a bus and clean up the wreckage – my friend Kate did that instead.

Now it is seven years later, and I just finished Salvage the Bones.  I could say that the book is about Katrina, and that the author is a Katrina survivor, but it is so much more.

It is a snapshot of the rural poor in 21st century Mississippi, a subculture that gets very little notice.  Where people live in trailers that get swept away in storms and the white families still sit inside their houses, refusing to offer shelter to the drowning blacks.  It’s a world where people make money from dog fighting and girls get pregnant at 13; it’s a world that has no health-care, so women birth their babies alone in their homes.

A place that takes the flesh and rips it away, leaving people stripped to their literal bones.

I believe it is our responsibility as humans to look at parts of life that make us feel shame; that are painful to acknowledge.  To be honest with ourselves and what we’ve done and haven’t done, and how our society treats those in need.

This book cultivated an understanding and empathy for a world that is very different than the one I live in, yet we share the same nation.  There is more than before; another layer of compassion has been added to my life, and this is one of the many reasons I love reading – even when it forces me to see things in life and myself that are hard to acknowledge.

I highly recommend this book, not just for the learning (if that’s there for you), but also for the stark celebration of language’s beauty; how it can take the dirty, the dying, the unloved, and reveal their fierce triumph of making it through their unseen lives; making it through their personal and actual hurricanes.

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