Where the Line Bleeds: A Novel

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Employing an epigraph from Genesis that invokes Rebekah, mother of the second famous set of biblical brothers, Jacob and Esau, Jesmyn Ward establishes that Where the Line Bleeds will be a novel of brotherly love. As twins Christophe and Joshua navigate life after Hurricane Katrina in Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, they find themselves pulled in two different directions, one respectable and one criminal. Readers must ask if either young man had a choice, and as the novel approaches its climax, it’s clear Ward wants her audience to engage with more than just the narrative but the underlying political and economic issues it illustrates.

The first woman to win two National Book Awards for fiction for Sing, Unburied, Sing and Salvage the Bones, Jesmyn Ward crafts prose that haunts and halts, soothes and startles. In her first work of fiction, Where the Line Bleeds (republished on the heels of the success of Sing, Unburied, Sing), all of the traits that have become synonymous with her style are on display. Wrenching, authentic dialogue permeates the book as the characters come to life through rich and detailed description. Ward’s gift is in making the world of Bois Sauvage, the world of her characters, feel so real you can almost hear the droning that fills Christophe’s head as the “incessant neon buzzing sizzled away” and “the ringing chorus of the night bugs replaced it.”

When their mother, Cille, who left her boys when she went searching for a better life, and their father, a menacing addict named Sandman, enter the narrative, it is clear a reckoning will come for Christophe and Joshua. Ward’s conclusion is as stunning as the prose itself, and the novel begs to be read again and again.

Reviewed By:

Author Jesmyn Ward
Star Count 5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 256 pages
Publisher Scribner
Publish Date 2018-Jan-16
ISBN 9781501164330
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue April 2018
Category Modern Literature


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