Bastard out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison

Bastard out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison was a hard book for me to read. It’s full of rage and pain and trauma because it is capturing the shape of real rage and pain and trauma. It is dark because dark things happen. The narrator is a child slowly losing naïveté but without enough well-rounded experience to stop being seen as innocent. She is hurt and confused because she is being hurt without reason or sense. Nominally she is blamed but it isn’t her fault, it can’t be. Minimizing spoilers, Bastard out of Carolina requires trigger warnings for child abuse and rape. It is a good book, one that should be read either as a window or an outlet, for it is worth your time and your attention. “Enjoy” is not the word, but I recommend Bastard out of Carolina for how it crosses taboos to reach for wordless rage and common traumatic experiences. Rape and child abuse should not be common. But since they are we must also have the words to speak of them.

CW for child abuse, sexual assault.


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