- In the July 5, 1992, edition of The New York Times Book Review, George Garrett said "in no way seems to be a patchwork of short stories linked together. Everything, each part, belongs only to the novel" and "close to flawless". He compared it J.D. Salinger's novel Catcher in the Rye and Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird praising that it includes: "special qualities of her style include a perfect ear for speech and its natural rhythms; an unassertive, cumulative lyricism; an intensely imagined and presented sensory world, with all five senses working together; and, above all, again and again a language for the direct articulation of deep and complex feelings."
- K. K. Roeder in the April 1991 publication of San Francisco Review of Books states that Allison: "relates the difficulty of Bone's struggles with intensity, humor, and hard-wrought rejection of self-pity, rendering Bastard a rare achievement among works of fiction dealing with abused children." 
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