Where the Line Bleeds

Where the Line Bleeds

3.66 (309 ratings by Goodreads)
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Joshua and Christophe are twins, raised by a blind grandmother and a large extended family in a rural town on Mississippi s Gulf Coast. They ve just finished high school and need to find jobs, but in a failing post-Katrina economy, it s not easy. Joshua gets work on the docks, but Christophe s not so lucky. Desperate to alleviate the family s poverty, he starts to sell drugs. He can hide it from his grandmother but not his twin, and the two grow increasingly estranged. Christophe s downward spiral is accelerated first by crack, then by the reappearance of the twins parents: Cille, who abandoned them, and Sandman, a creepy, predatory addict. Sandman taunts Christophe, eventually provoking a shocking confrontation that will ultimately damn or save both twins. Ward inhabits these characters, and this world black Creole, poor, and drug-riddled, yet shored by family and community to a rare degree, without a trace of irony or distance."show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 241 pages
  • 152.4 x 226.06 x 25.4mm | 362.87g
  • Agate Publishing
  • Evanston, United States
  • English
  • 1932841385
  • 9781932841381
  • 525,431

Review quote

Praise for National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward's debut novel "Where the Line Bleeds" "Starkly beautiful debut...A fresh new voice in American literature." "Publishers Weekly" "Lushly descriptive prose...with stunning precision. Her prodigious talent and fearless portrayal of a world too often overlooked make her novel a powerful choice for our seventeenth "Essence" Book Club Recommended Read." "Essence" "I feel like I have read the debut work of the next Faulkner, or Capote, or O Connor, a great Southern writer whom my children might some day read in their college classes." Kenneth Jones, "Oxford Eagle" "A richly textured tale...like the best fiction, [it] creates its own world." Susan Larson, "New Orleans Times-Picayune" "A resonant novel for any reader." "Booklist" "Jesmyn Ward s debut novel immediately sets her apart as a young novelist to watch closely." Daniel Van Mieghem, "Literary Fiction Review" "An emotionally honest snapshot of an overlooked America: small-town, economically stagnant and black." William J. Cobb, "Dallas Morning News" "A promising debut." "Kirkus Reviews" "Ward s beautiful language allows the location and characters to come alive...will appeal to teens who can see themselves here or who are interested in discovering realities far from their own lives." "School Library Journal" "A lyrical yet clear-eyed portrait of a rural South and an African-American reality that are rarely depicted." Anna Mundow, "Boston Globe" "The greatest strength of this novel is Ward's ability to capture in perfect nuance the smallest gestures and details of setting in order to bring the world she depicts to life, often through the wordless way in which the characters communicate." Jennifer Deitz, "Palo Alto Weekly" "Bursting with life - joyous, loving, frustrated and furious - "Where the Line Bleeds" marks the forceful debut of an exceptional new talent. Jesmyn Ward's vision is at once searingly honest and sweepingly empathic. Her vibrant portrait of a Mississippi Gulf Coast town is peopled by some of the most movingly, achingly human characters I've encountered in fiction in years." Peter Ho Davies, author of "The Welsh Girl" "Jesmyn Ward's debut novel is eloquent in its description of young lives at risk; she's authoritative both when writing of the doomed and prospect of salvation. The lyric gifts displayed in "Where The Line Bleeds" are very impressive indeed, and the world evokedthe rural south, with its complex web of family devotion and betrayalis vivid from first page to last. A major talent here." Nicholas Delbanco, author of "Spring and Fall," and "The Count of Concord" ""Where the Line Bleeds" is a rich, subtle, lyrical novel by an important new writer. Jesmyn Ward writes with a miniaturist's attention to detail, with dazzling elegance and precision, but is unwaveringly compassionate in her exploration of character and place. There is suspense here, along with keen insightthe qualities that keep the pages turning. But there is also poetry, and mysterythe qualities that cause the reader to linger in wonder." Laura Kasischke, author of "The Life Before Her Eyes""show more

Review Text

Blues on the bayou, and blood to boot.The piney woods of southern Mississippi aren't much of a place. Everyone knows everyone's business, nobody has enough to do, and in between hurricanes there's only trouble to get into. Ward's first novel opens with Christophe and Joshua DeLisle, fraternal twins, preparing to jump into the swirling waters of a muddy river - to cool off, not to kill themselves. It's a portentous moment, for just as each will jump differently, so will their lives take a different course. Caring for an ailing grandmother and just out of high school, the boys are holding their own in this backwater world until temptation presents itself: Joshua finds himself with some folding money after finding a job on the wharves, Christophe with yet more folding money after he takes up selling a little weed after not finding licit work. Danger insinuates itself in the form of the boys' long-absent father, a bad actor with a mean drug habit who likes stronger blends than Christophe has to sell, and the story thenceforth takes turns that can be seen coming from a long way off. Ward's plotting is predictable, but her story is closely observed, full of telling details: "Christophe had fallen asleep in the middle of counting his money, and was stretched out with his arms thrown over his head as if he had been surprised, his mouth open, the bills ragged and bunched underneath him." The author, a native of the Mississippi coast, serves up a world that has been little depicted: the rural African-American South, a place of grinding poverty but enduring loyalties, tragic but somehow noble at the same time.A promising debut. (Kirkus Reviews)show more
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