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Sing, Unburied, Sing
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2017 Spine of the Month > November 2017 - Sing, Unburied, Sing

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Jamise (spinesvines) | 72 comments Mod
November Spine of the Month

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

1. Please discuss Sing, Unburied, Sing here. This forum open for discussion at any time. You don't have to wait until the end of the month to chat about the book.

2. Remember to add *SPOILER* at the beginning of your comment should it reveal any plot element which will give away important details or outcomes. Everyone may start at different times and read at different speeds.

3. If Discussion Questions are listed, feel free to answer as many as you wish to spark conversation with members.

4. Please remain courteous and respectful of members and their opinions.

If you've previously read this book selection, please feel free to engage & share your thoughts.

Irene | 297 comments I am about 2/3rds of the way through the book. I am struggling with Jojo. I keep picturing a female, not a 13 year old boy. Maybe this reveals my stereotypes. But, his tender attention to his little sister, his ability to anticipate the needs of his dying grandmother, his quiet acceptance of his mother's little cruelties, does not feel like adolescent male behavior. I am not saying that men can't be nurturing, but my experience is that they develop emotional intelligence much later than age 13. I find that at this age, they are more likely to struggle to hold their tonge, to be reactive than to be this patient tower of strength. Actually, this quiet strength, thiswise ability to remain quiet and simply act with integrity speaks of a maturity I have not yet met in a 13 year old.

The mother's voice feels far more credible to me, although I really dislike her. Ward conveys the ambivluence in her, her desire to have her children love and need her at the same time she pushes them away, her anger over her brother's death, over the racism that allowed his killer to go free and this need for love that seems to be a 16 year old arrested in the body of a 30 year old. I want to smack her, but I can believe in her. I don't quite feel Jojo is real; he is just too perfect.

Irene | 297 comments Finished this one. Looking forward to discussing it with others in this group.

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

This is a ghost story, not the fantastic sort, but the psychological sort. Three generations of a rural Mississippi family are haunted by the ghosts of the region’s violent racism. For some, these ghosts are prayed into a source of strength and wisdom, others flee their painful reminder and take refuge in drugs and destructive relationships, and still others are forced to mediate for the ghosts of earlier generations. Ward is a brilliant wordsmith. Her use of language shimmers, not in a way that blinds the reader from the narrative, but with a light that illumines the characters and the depths of meaning. Her dialogues capture the rhythm of her setting. If I had any problem with this novel, it was my inability to sense that JoJo was real. This 13 year old boy displayed such quiet, unfailing strength and nurturing tenderness that he felt as if he belonged more to the elusive world from which sprung the ghostly figures than to the gritty, turbulent world of the ordinary. Whether he is being roughed up by the cop that pulls his mother over or bracing against the blows of his unstable mother, whether he is tending to his sick baby sister or his dying grandmother, his reactions are so muted, so steady that I could not picture him as a young teenaged boy. Where is the confusion, the bursts of rage or frustration, the impulsive reactions, etc. that are part of transitioning between childhood and adulthood. Leonie, his drug addicted mother was despicable in her selfishness and total lack of nurturing for her children. But, in her conflicted feelings, her pain, her neediness and failed aspirations, she was far too credible.

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