BASTARD OUT OF CAROLINA BY DOROTHY ALLISON
Although marketed as fiction, Dorothy Allison’s book Bastard Out of Carolina definitely falls into the category of real horror stories. Our protagonist (Bone) lives in rural South Carolina with an extended family who is, she says, “the bad poor.”
Ultimately, this narrative is about a child who experiences emotional, physical, and sexual abuse at the hands of her stepfather, and her mother knows about it. As does the rest of her family. Bone says of her life:
Growing up was like falling into a hole. The boys would quit school and sooner or later go to jail for something silly. I might not quit school, not while Mama had any say in the matter, but what difference would that make? What was I going to do in five years? Work in the textile mill? Join Mama at the diner? It all looked bleak to me. No wonder people got crazy as they grew up.
SCARY BECAUSE: The hopelessness of Bone and her family is so complete that they take it in stride with laughter at the absurd. Even when the worst thing possible happens—and it definitely, definitely does—the family strategizes to move past it in the only ineffective ways they know. This story has a child protagonist and narrator, but it’s one of several true horror stories for adults only.