Recently I read two books that were hard to read for me… mainly because I am a softie when it comes to animals and these books challenged me to think of why I dislike when animals are hunted or harmed in gambling fights. Yet, I liked both of these books because I thought they both offered good stories, memorable characters and a lot to think about.
I finished Salvage the Bones, by Jesmyn Ward in mid April.
I was intrigued by this book because it won The 2011 National Book Award for Fiction and an Alex Award for 2012… and I have usually liked the books chosen for these awards in the past. I was not disappointed in the writing and I found the story compelling. What I did not realize is that this book would have dog fighting in it. It is a book about a family who lives in poverty in rural mississippi and chronicles the days before and after Hurricane Katrina hits.
Through the eyes of Esch, the 14 year old narrator, I was able to see the love the family had for each other, their friends, and their dog. It challenged me to understand why a boy who loved his dog would want to fight her. It challenged me to see Skeetah as more than just a monster who fights dogs. Although the main storyline revolves around the family’s struggles as a whole, I found that Skeetah, China (his dog), and the puppies was the one that kept me up at night and frustrated me to setting the book aside just so I could wrap my head around my feelings.
In the end, I decided to skim over the dog fighting part (even though some of my friends on Goodreads.com said it was well written and worth reading). It was hard enough to read up to that point and then read the aftermath. When all is said and done, I decided that I could see some humanity to Skeetah, but I still could not like him. I could like Big Henry though. Big Henry was the boy you wanted your daughter to marry. Kind, thoughtful, and so nice that Esch never thought of him more than just a friend… Isn’t that always how it goes for the nice guy?
I would usually pick up a lighter and less thought-provoking book after such a gut wrenching story, but my library thought differently. Sure enough,I received a notification from my library that The Snow Child, by Eowen Ivey, had come in and I had 14 days to finish it.
I crossed my fingers that maybe it would be a lighter read since it was inspired by a Russian Fairy Tale and the little girl on the cover looked sweet. In many ways, it was a less emotionally taxing story, but it still had its moments where I could not help but get emotionally involved with the characters plights. It starts out a bit bleak… Jack and Mabel are struggling and it looks like they will not be able to survive the harsh winter unless Jack takes on another job. Mabel and Jack’s marriage is already strained due to having a stillborn child and the stress of trying to start their homestead. Thankfully, some pretty amazing people enter their lives right at the darkest moment. They meet another farming family who shares what they have and tells them that they can survive on moose meat and potatoes. Of course, they have to shoot a moose first.
Oh No! Continue reading