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Preview — Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Sing, Unburied, Sing
In Jesmyn Ward’s first novel since her National Book Award–winning Salvage the Bones, this singular American writer brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first-century America. Drawing on Morrison and Faulkner, The Odyssey and the Old Testament, Ward gives us an epochal story, a ...more
It was the ghosts, folks. It was the ghosts that made me do it. They made me change my mind and go with 2 stars instead of my original 3. It’s just that they were such a big part of this book. If they had been smaller and kept their mouths shut, I would be handing you 3 stars. I wanted to be closer in stars to my gushing friends, but that just didn’t happen. I didn’t like this book, period. And of course, I have a Complaint Board to prove it.
I did like a few ...more
"I washed my hands every day, Jojo. But that damn blood ain't never come out."
Such a stunning book.
Sing, Unburied, Sing captivated me almost instantly. THIS is how character-driven family dramas should be, and there's nothing quite like a nice bit of dysfunctional family drama to keep me turning pages. But I don't want to diminish the strength of this novel. It is a character study of a contemporary African-American family in Mississippi, but it is also a darkly beautiful story about ghosts. ...more
Sometimes, the world don’t give you what you need, no matter how hard you look. Sometimes, it withholds.
so, i’ve been meaning to review this for a couple of weeks now, and it’s a real challenge, because there is no universe in which i feel qualified to convey how damn good this book is. up there it’s compared to morrison and faulkner, the odyssey and the old testament, and that’s probably true, but i’m no authority - i ...more
I read, before reading this novel, that Jesmyn Ward had ...more
I remember I cringed at times - and thought the language was beautiful.
.....many other reviews came before me - excellent ones describing the plot and sharing about the characters. I read Michael's review which had me running to find this book on ...more
Well, this was certainly an intense, beautifully written novel. I have to admit I went into this with some very high expectations, but also with a bit of reluctance. I have seen much praise lavished on this book, and deservedly so despite my lower ranking compared with many of my trusted and much-respected Goodreads friends. I also had prior knowledge of a fairly large dose of magical realism which can sometimes muddy my enjoyment of a book. However, I took the plunge, grabbed a copy, ...more
Heartbreak prevails, the past materializes in haunting forms, and Jesmyn Ward's prose sings in this brutal coming-of-age set in Mississippi.
Profound, poetic, and at times painful to read, Jesmyn Ward's Sing, Unburied, Sing is searing, truly a soaring literary achievement that I won't stop thinking about anytime soon.
Jojo is 13 years old, on the cusp of manhood but in some ways still very much a child, longing for the security and comfort of an easier time in his life. He and his younger sister Kayla (short for Michaela) have essentially been raised by their grandparents, since their mother Leonie is often absent, either physically
Jojo has a dual role as surrogate parent to toddler sister Kayla and as future head of household. He is asked to help grandfather ...more
I almost always read just before going to sleep, and occasionally I wake up thinking about the characters, feeling like I have to get back to the book because I just have to know what's going to happen to them . This is what happened with this story. To me that's so telling about how Jesmyn Ward creates characters that are so real that you worry about them as if they were people you know, children that you want to be safe. That's just one of the strengths of her writing - the intimacy that we as ...more
Beautiful, Lyrical and Poetic. Haunting and completely Heart-Wrenching. And quite honestly, a book that ripped me apart.
“Sing Unburied Sing” is a character driven novel about a poverty stricken family living in Mississippi, where race discrimination runs rampant. Jojo is a thirteen year old biracial boy who has taken care of his three year old sister Kayla, since her birth, even though live with their Mam and Pop. Mam has shown Jojo what love and kindness are, while Pop has taught ...more
Magical realism and fantasy are not themes that I connect with or generally enjoy reading. I hadn’t realized those aspects were such a large part of this story and I found them confusing and highly distracting. I think this came down to me not being the target market for this book.
There were some unforgettable characters within this tragic and unsettling story. Pre-teenaged Jojo stole my heart as he took on the parental role to his toddler ...more
How to describe a book that is both heartbreaking, sad, raw and yet hopeful all at the same time? That really is the question. I'll start by saying that I found Ward's writing to be haunting, beautiful and poetic. I loved the imagery she provoked. I felt like I was on the farm with the family and then in the car on the journey to pick up Michael at the Penitentiary. I was right there in the barn when the goat was being slaughtered and also there when the police ...more
Those old enough to remember the film Easy Rider will know the fate of its protagonists, played by Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. They dared bring their long hair and loose morals into The Deep South almost 50 years ago. They both end up dead, shot off their motorcycles by the local rednecks for being different. The point of the film? Although Fonda and Hopper are white folk - and this was the target audience - this is what black people experience on a daily basis in a ...more
What a powerful, beautiful, heartbreaking story that details love, hate, sadness, death, drugs, poverty, and racism. There is so much packed into this one and my thoughts are still with these characters. I thought this was a perfect example of Southern Gothic literature. Defined as follows:
Southern Gothic literature include deeply flawed, disturbing or eccentric characters who may or may not dabble in hoodoo, ambivalent gender roles, decayed or derelict settings, grotesque situations, ...more
I couldn't get into this book. I wanted to love it, truly but I'm having a hard time reviewing it.
It's a beautifully written book about poverty, family, racism, hope and struggle.
Just... not for me.
Sing Unburied Sing is stunning, gripping, haunting, beautifully written, compelling and filled with complex characters. I'm usually put off by magical realism in books but I think it only added to the poetic and searing storytelling.
Read for the African-American Historical Fiction Bookclub.
2018 Badass Books Challenge: A book ...more
Beautifully written, haunting, very sad. In this story we have biracial children being taken care of by the grandparents, a drug addicted mother, their father in prison, a grandmother who is dying, and a loving grandfather. Oh, and we also have ghosts, yes, quite a few ghosts.
Jojo one of a few different narrators of this book is just bogged down with the responsibility of his little sister Kayla..he is the only constant for her, he and his grandfather really ...more
Sing, Unburied, Sing was a Traveling Sister Group read and we had some mixed feelings on this one and it brought out a lot of different emotions from us. We had some interesting group discussions with this one. Some of us really connected to the story on a very emotional level and some of us could not connect at all to the story. For me, I struggled with connecting with the story.
Jesmyn Ward takes on some sad and ugly truths here ...more
There's been a hum of excitement on Goodreads regarding this book, which has won a throng of awards. Too impatient to wait for my pathetic lil french/english local library to get it - I just bought my own copy.
High expectations are dangerous, but not for me, in this particular case. Jesmyn Ward delivers in this book a raw, impossibly real cast of characters, with a story that is simple (junkie mom packs her kids in the car to pick up loser dad ...more
Original review from 2017:
I finished this novel a week ago and haven't been able to write about it. It is so good, I just don't know how to do it justice. If I list the ingredients of the novel for you, the characters and events, it ...more
A snapshot of a family in crisis, Sing, Unburied, Sing reckons with the legacy of racial injustice in the Deep South. The novel follows thirteen-year-old Jojo and his mother Leonie as the pair drives north to retrieve Jojo's white father from prison upon his release. On the road, Leonie struggles to care for Jojo's younger sister, Kayla, forcing Jojo to help care for her; Jojo resents his mother's inability to ...more
His father is about to be released from the state ...more
SING UNBURIED SING is a multi-layered, beautifully written story about a dysfunctional family who live on a farm near the Gulf of Mississippi.
THE CHARACTERS are very well-defined and unforgettable....like the self-absorbed drug addicted Leonie who "ain't got the mothering instinct"....like Michael the father....who "ain't" much better....undependable....even when he's not in prison.
POOR MAM, she's...more
SING, UNBURIED, SING by JESMYN WARD is a haunting, sad, heartfelt, and an absolutely exceptional novel that had me totally engaged, entertained, and interested throughout this entire book. Although, this book was so infuriating to read at times because of its heavy subject matter it was also so well-written with such beautiful prose that this book was extremely hard for me to put down.
JESMYN WARD delivers a beautifully written multi-layered story here with absolutely wonderful ...more
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Her work has appeared in BOMB, A Public Space and The Oxford American.