Bastard Out of Carolina was a book I regretted reading about five times in the midst reading it, but at the end I realized it was worth it. It's graphic, sad and cruel... but not hopeless. It's about the strength that hardship brings out in people... "powerful broken people".
I especially loved the afterword by the author, Dorothy Alison. I hung on every word she said. Here are my favorite quotes from that:
"She had spoken about how young people develop a moral sense, and how hidden violence affected small communities, and how bringing that violence into the open made it possible to strengthen and enlarge concepts of social justice."
"I made up the Boatwrights, building them from scraps of family story but deepening them with music and a wry spoken language that layered incident and terrible details to create something not unlike those mountain songs I had heard as a girl - tragic awful stories full of powerful broken people."
What I loved were books that heightened the sense of life's wonders without denying the complexity and horror that sometimes accompanied those wonders. I loved books that showed women and men surviving what seemed almost impossible to survive, and coming out the other side with a sense of worth that redeemed suffering and grief."
"...which is simply that real life is far less believable than fiction."
"I value both but genuinely believe that fiction can tell a larger truth."
"Stories open the door to the darkened room. Language can carry us past the horror to the sense of purpose in a life that refuses to surrender to that darkness."
"I want a world in which families are treasured no matter how poor or how much the object of scandal."
"What banning books does is continue the denial, extend that damage, and block anyway for us to come together and address the reality of violence within our families and communities."
"For that is of course what it means to read a novel and live in it for a while. You are viscerally inside someone else's reality. You feel and understand things you have not known before, and that is both scary and exhilarating. The world becomes more clear, reality more vivid, and your own experience larger."