Book Club Kits
Salvage the Bones
by West, Jesamyn
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1. Chart Eschs attitude toward her pregnancy through the twelve days of the novel. How does Esch first realize that she might be pregnant, and how does she react when her suspicion is confirmed? When do we see Esch in stages of denial, fear, and acceptance? How do Skeetah and Daddy respond when they discover Eschs pregnancy?
2. How does Daddy seem to know that a storm is coming before anyone else? How do his children and neighbors react to his early preparations? Why do Daddys precautions fail in the face of Katrinas destruction?
3. Discuss the depiction of violence in Salvage the Bones. What do scenes of violence including Daddys loss of his fingers, Chinas brutal killing of her puppy, and the dogfight between China and Kilo add to the novel? How do violence and tenderness coexist in this troubled setting?
4. Consider how Manny betrays Esch and her brothers. How does Manny treat Esch before and after he learns of her pregnancy? Why does Manny turn on Skeetah and China and support Rico and Kilo in the dogfight?
5. Review the scenes of the hurricane, in which Esch, her brothers, and Daddy scramble from their attic to their roof to Mother Lizbeth and Papa Josephs house in order to escape the rising water. How do these family members help each other survive these treacherous conditions? Why does Daddy throw Esch into the water, and how does he later express regret?
6. Compare the portrayal of Katrina in Salvage the Bones to what you saw of the hurricane in the news. Which aspects of the storms devastation does this novel bring to life? What does Eschs perspective add to your understanding of Katrinas impact?
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