Review: Where the Line Bleeds by Jesmyn Ward

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published December 1st 2006

Set in a rural town on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Where the Line Bleeds tells the story of fraternal twins Joshua and Christophe, who are graduating high school as the novel begins. The two boys both anticipate and dread their lives as adults. Joshua finds a job working as a dock laborer on the Gulf of Mexico, but Christophe has less luck: Unable to find a job, and desperate to alleviate his family’s poverty, he starts to sell drugs. Joshua does not approve, but his clumsy concern fractures the twins’ relationship. When their long-missing addict father reappears, he provokes a shocking confrontation between himself and the brothers—one that will ultimately damn or save them.

Where the Line Bleeds is unforgettable for the intense clarity of how the main relationships are rendered: the love but growing tension between the twins; their devotion to the slowly failing grandmother to raised them, and the sense of obligation they feel toward her; and most of all, the alternating pain, bewilderment, anger, and yearning they feel for the parents who abandoned them—their mother for a new life in the big city of Atlanta, and their father for drugs, prison, and even harsher debasements.

I’m so surprised by how much I really enjoyed this book.
It tells such a raw, honest story and I couldn’t help but become invested from the first chapter. The writing is so great and the author is so talented. I felt the plot was very authentic and didn’t shy away from being gritty. The plot itself wasn’t action packed but I didn’t think it was boring or unbearably slow. It was very engaging and I read the entire book in just a one sitting.


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