Black Women Writers @ Southwestern University

An English / Feminist Studies / Race & Ethnicity Studies Course Blog

Can We Be More Than Business Partners?


So, I am going to be the jerk here and say that I am not too impressed with Salvage the Bones just yet. I feel really bad for saying that because there are so many people, not just in our class, but outside of our class as well who really enjoy this book, obviously, it was the National Book Award winner.

It is not because I can’t relate to the characters or anything, because I do and can. I can relate to having an awkward relationship with my own father, just as Esch has with her father. We talked a lot about the family dynamic in class on Monday. If any of you noticed, I did not speak one time, I hope that it was not because I subconsciously do not like the book, but just because it was a time for me to truly listen to y’all that day. I took what y’all had to say to heart. The way that y’all were talking about her father really made me think of my own father, and our relationship, or lack thereof in some instances I should say. I would say that everyone has a relationship with their parents, whether they have one or not–having a relationship or not is a type of relationship, that is kind of where I was going with that. If that makes sense, I hope..

Some people talked about how their relationship is kind of real, meaning that Esch’s father does not sugar coat things, he gives them (the family) the basic survival skills for the world, that is the type of father he is. That is how my father is, not so much love, just strictly business. He does not think that we should be friends, but just be a daughter and father, and this is how I see Esch and her father. I think this is tough to wrap my head around sometimes and is a big reason why we don’t have much of a relationship, is because he has pushed me and it makes me scared for Esch and their relationship in the future. I am not sure, because I have not completed the book yet, but I hope that there will be more love, and more opportunity for them not to be business partners almost, but as friends too.


4 thoughts on “Can We Be More Than Business Partners?

  1. I totally relate to you there. Both this and Silver Sparrow have been difficult for me to read, as the child of an emotionally absent parent and the child of a parent with substance abuse issues (the father in Salvage the Bones seems to have a pretty obvious drinking problem). I am trying to like it as well, but it’s hurting me to read.

  2. I’m relieved not to be the only one with a dissonant opinion here! I don’t particularly care for the novel thus far either (I know, I know, BOO! for unsolicited value judgments…), but I definitely agree that it performs objectively valuable and critical work on the types of relationship that can be within/that can form a family. Ward uses interesting techniques to bring up topics that are difficult to discuss – such as family cohesion (or the lack thereof), the different ways love can be manifested …and how that manifests it through each individual, and through each unique relationship between family members [here I mean Esch/her father; Skeetah/Esch; each sibling with Junior, etc…that each relationship within the larger ‘family’ context has its own problems and strengths]- but just because it is difficult, and even heartbreaking, I don’t know if that makes it particularly compelling. I’m hoping, too, that these relationships are strengthened and clarified as we go further into the reading.

    • Yeah, the types of relationships in the book are interesting. We have been taught that a loving, healthy relationship looks a certain way and that anything deviant can’t be loving or healthy. I wish that the reader had more insight into what the family members think of their family dynamic.

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