Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Ward's lyrical novel chronicles multiple generations of one family through its highs and lows. Told primarily through the voices of thirteen-year-old Jojo and his mother, Leonie, their story is filled with hope and heartbreak.
Jojo is on the cusp of manhood, and in looking at the male figures in his life, he is confused about what comes next. His black grandfather, Pop, is his stability in life. While his absent white father, Michael, has spent the last few years in prison and even before that was more focused on himself and Jojo's mother Leonie.
Leonie, who is so focused on her own problems that her children are secondary to most of her decisions, is in continual turmoil. As a black woman involved with a white man in the deep south, she knows life will never be easy. Drugs are often her escape, but also her torment, as when she's high she is often visited by the ghost of her dead brother.
When the family makes the trip to Parchman prison to pick up Michael, conflicts, past and present, arise to force each of them to face a truth. For Jojo - it's the truth of the violence of the past and just how far love will push a person. Leonie's truth is in knowing that she's failed her children, and the legacy that her dying mother has tried to pass on to her.
This is a powerful and difficult read that will leave readers exhausted from the journey.
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