This book shook me from start to finish. Thankful for writers like Jesmyn Ward giving a voice to the voiceless.
Definitely one of the most moving, powerful books I've read this year. Ward is able to relate the lives, interactions, struggles of past and present of this Mississippi family in a woven fashion that illuminates their complexities bit by bit. Injustice, hate, prejudice, love, spirit, life and death all shape these characters and how they deal with each other. These factors enable some to grow and others not. Jojo, Kayla, Pop and Richie will stay in my thoughts for some time to come.
I was not too crazy over the way the book was written, the story line was good, the delivery not perfect. Strange title for the story.
A novel about a present day African-American family in rural Mississippi where the past is always an important influencing presence - in this case portrayed as ghosts who visit, warn, plead with, and follow the living. The characters are complex and complicated and it is an emotional read which is in turn disturbing and beautiful, promising and bleak, harsh and loving.
Echoes of Beloved.
Out of the rich, black earth, rises a Modern Southern Gothic story that took me two days to read.
“This is the kind of world that makes fools of the living and wants of them once they dead, and devils them throughout.”
I picked this up at the end of Dewey’s 24-hour readathon, I was feeling tired and coming down with a viral thing that just won’t go away. And I made more tea, buckled down and forced myself to stay awake and read it because it was so good.
It’s told from multiple perspectives, Jojo, a 13-year-old boy, his mother, who struggles with substance abuse and often sees ghosts, and then others.
Ward gives Leonie, Jojo’s mother, her own voice. It gives such an authenticity to the experience of a drug addict. The true self-centredness, the matter-of-fact way she ignores so many other important aspects in her life. We can see how that cripples her — and she’s totally aware of it — but refuses to look it in the eyes.
Her dialogue is so good because it’s so simple. She hangs truths in the air and doesn’t touch them after that.
“You was the only daddy I ever knew. I need to know why you left me.”
I did feel a slight change in tone once the ghost characters became more prominent but I like magical realism a lot, so it didn’t bother me at all. I didn’t like the change in tone so much, but it did grow on me as time went on, so it was just a matter of adjusting to the flow of the story.
What I loved most about this book, and what I love most about a lot of African American literature / black lit / soul lit is that it ties the past, the present and the future together so seamlessly and lets all of the colours run. Black, red, blue, all back into the earth. It’s interesting, because I’m currently reading Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington, who talks of this same rich soil, and how the formerly enslaved South only knew how to grow cotton there. He starts a school, starts a garden, (among many other things!), and talks about how fertile the earth is, just like the minds of his students, of their opportunities.
So it was interesting to hear Ward talk about it too, but in a different way.
The motif of touch in this novel is fascinating, reoccurring and totally beautiful, especially when you consider how the ghosts that visit certain characters cannot touch them.
Sing Unburied Sing is what happens when Ward decides to tell you a story, knowing the end will hurt, knowing perhaps you won’t be ready for it, but knowing you’ll need to hear it anyway, because it will heal the person the story was written for.
Redemption can be an ugly thing. While we heal, we still feel pain.
We can’t pick our pasts. And sometimes, we can’t even pick our legacies.
But let’s hope there’s love in between.
Distinct style. Three narrators, two of them children, all of them childish (and the same character) , spoiled the book for me. No real story.
11-year-old Jojo is the main caretaker of his toddler sister Kayla. His white father has been in prison for three years, and now his struggling, drug addicted mother forces him to go with her to pick up Michael as he gets released. Jojo's strength and grounding come from his maternal, African American grandparents, who have been raising him a good part of his life. Jojo also a sixth sense that allows him to understand the unspoken language of animals and people. But he is unnerved when he is visited by ghosts from the past. The brutalizing legacy of slavery shows its ugly face in this difficult story. There is gross injustice in this story,but also deep love and hope.
Unbeatable liteary style. Author writes in the dialect and cadence of the characters and their disposition, which happens to be Southern black and struggling with poverty and survival in a mixed race relationship with father in prison, and drug addicted mother. This portrayal is done beautifully and with grit. Ward throws in a couple etherial characters which, for me, interrupted the storyline. Definitely a story to chew on.
An amazingly haunted tale. It was vivid and I found myself at the end like little Kayla asking, "Jojo?" Wonderful Southern Geechee-like tale!
ranvapa thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over
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