Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
This is the story of a family in a small Mississippi town. Set 12 days before Hurricane Katrina hits. The story is told by Esch the lone female voice. Esch lives with her father and three brothers. The mother died giving birth to the youngest son. Ward's does an excellent job of building this families world. I understood where every character was coming from.
A large part of this story is the relationship Esch's older brother Skeetah has with his pit bull China. With Skeetah, Ward created a character that took part in dog fights that not only did I not dislike but cared very much for. One would have to read the novel to believe me but its obvious how much Skeetah loves China. There are moments when my heart broke watching Esch, wanting someone to love her as much as Skeetah does his dog. The family is preparing for coming hurricane but that is very much in the background. Esch voice captured me from the very beginning, there's such an honest beauty to it that I loved.
Esch is around 15 or 16 before reading Salvage the Bones, I thought it might have some YA crossover appeal. After reading it I know its true. Since it's fiction and not YA there is adult content. However, I truly appreciated how everything was a reflection of reality. The author doesn't feel the need to over do it with language or sex because the strength of the writing will entice and keep readers interest.
A 2011 National Book Award Finalists