Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Esch, a pregnant teenager, lives with her 3 brothers and alcoholic father in the Mississippi Gulf area, and a storm's a-brewin'.  One of the brothers, Skeetah, owns a female pitbull, China, that he loves dearly, but he is just as enamored with the money she can bring in as a fighter.  Her first litter of puppies represents an additional source of income, and Skeetah becomes desperate to save all of the dogs when one dies of an unknown cause.  In the meantime, the family's father tries valiantly to lead the whole crew in making preparations for the hurricane that is on its way.  On the one hand, it's hard to imagine how things could get much worse, but their desperate scramble to survive the disaster is one of the most gripping pieces of writing that I've read in a while.  Esch sprinkles her narration of all this with tales from Greek mythology and compares her own situation to Medea's.  I know these passages are supposed to lend a mystical aura to the story, but, really, this family's struggle is dramatic enough.  The more interesting and appropriate parallel, I think, is between Esch and the dog China, both having to adapt to the idea of motherhood.  Furthermore, Esch's mother died bearing the last of Esch's three brothers, and this tragedy haunts them all.  Esch and China both live in a man's world, doing the bidding of the male figures that surround them.  Esch, caught up in her infatuation with her baby's father, who won't even look at her, needs to face her future realistically.  China has even fewer options but seems to be of more concern, at least to Skeetah, than Esch, who withholds the fact of her pregnancy as long as possible.  The real authority, though, lies with a storm named Katrina.

1 comment:

grogana said...

I loved this book. Raw for sure but in the end rewarding.