Monday, 11 December 2017

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward {Goodreads}
Published by Bloomsbury in 2017
Hardback edition; 304 pages

Sing, Unburied, Sing is a road trip story. The novel starts when Jojo's father, a white man, is released from prison. His mother, Leonie, gets him, his little sister and a friend of hers, and hits the road to the penitentiary to pick him up.

I always find the books I love the most, the harder ones to talk about. And Sing, Unburied, Sing is no exception. The story is told mainly from two different perspectives: Jojo and his mother Leonie. From time to time we read from Richie's perspective, who is a ghost. I really loved this dynamic. Jojo and Leonie are very different people struggling with different issues. Jojo feels more connected with his grandparents and is very frustrated with his mother. He's a 13-year-old boy who's still trying to figure out who he is. At the same time, Leonie comes across as someone who is frustrated with herself and her choices. She can't overcome her drug-addiction which adds more tension to her relationship with her family. She doesn't feel like the motherly type at all, doesn't know how to treat her kids, how to provide for them or how to make them happy. She pays more attention to the father of her kids despite the fact that his family are not the type of family to accept a black person into their lives. It's very interesting to read about her thoughts.

I would say this whole novel is very emotional and by the end I was a proper wreck. It's not one of those stories where by the end you find yourself ugly-sobbing, it's more subtle than that. But it definitely packs a punch and I'm very eager to pick up more from Ward in the new year.

Sing, Unburied, Sing is a character-driven novel about an African-American family in Mississippi. But it is also a story about ghosts. Literally and figuratively. It's hard to read at times, which contrast with the exquisite writing style. Deals with so many issues: poverty, drug addiction, mixed race relationships, racism, family, motherhood... and it is done in such an honest, brutal manner, evoking such raw emotions that I know this story and these characters won't be easily forgotten. If you pick up any 2017 new release, let this be it.


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