Esch is the third child and only daughter of a poor black family in Louisiana. Her father is an alcoholic and her mother is dead (good heroines never have mothers), and as a fairly direct result Esch has been having sex with all of her brother’s friends in order to feel loved. The fact that I am reading this book at all is a direct result of you, dear Interwebs. I read your bookish corners with morning tea and my library’s request page open, dropping books into my cart without reference to whether I can possibly read them in time to return them without library fines or not. Then, somewhere between days and months later (I’m looking at you, Bossypants by Tina Fey!) I get an email telling me that such-and-such a book is ready for me to pick up. Behold the modern library patron, who has never set foot into her local library farther than the Hold Shelf (approximately 6 feet). She read 28,000+ pages last year, so don’t knock it till you’ve tried it, kittens. Anyway, Esch. She’s messed up and sad and her family is busted, and there’s a hurricane of the distinctly Katrina shape headed for her house. Ward treats her with respect, which is hard to do given Esch’s... err… situation, which is both gravid and grave. She is a child who has grown up without a mother, essentially without a father – what with him being an alcoholic and all – and who is the only woman in a family of boys. Her brother Skeetah’s pit fighting dog, China, has puppies at the beginning and reminds Esch that her own relationship with the father of her child isn’t as good as the one between her brother and his dog, which is as close to tragic as I can think about without welling up. He’s never even kissed her.But wait, there’s more heartache in store! Esch reads – like all good heroines – and what she’s into right now is Greek mythology, specifically the Jason and Medea myths. In fact, one could say that this entire text is a re-telling of the story of Jason and Medea, in which a woman is loved, makes sacrifices for that love, and then realizes that her love is nothing more than a face with no soul. Esch is spared Medea’s burden of murder, but only because she has not committed fratricide. Ward’s writing style is a study in opposites: her words are hard to read and hard to keep from reading, simultaneously lyrical and blunt, brutal and beautiful. I’m not sure this book was for me, but I read to the very end in order to find out. Six and a half Yellows.