Ever wonder how you'd survive if things got bad? Really bad? Like if you were 15, pregnant, poor, your mother was dead, your father was an alcoholic and you were living in the path of Hurricane Katrina? Esch, in Jesmyn Ward's National Book Award–winning Salvage the Bones, summons her inner strength in part by channeling her favorite nymphs and goddesses from Greek myths. At a chaotic store where panicked people are stocking up for the coming storm, Esch says, "I am small, dark: invisible. I could be Eurydice walking through the underworld to dissolve, unseen." When her boyfriend rejects her, she says, "In every one of the Greeks' mythology tales, there is this: a man chasing a woman, or a woman chasing a man." Our struggles are never just our own; even 15-year-old Esch knows there is a larger story somewhere that can help us understand our own lives. As things get worse and worse, as they do in these sorts of stories, she not only finds that she has the strength to survive it all but also reminds us that even when we don't find love or support from the people from whom we want to receive it, that doesn't mean others aren't offering it.
Salvage the Bones