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2018 Group Reads > January '18 Group Read: Sing, Unburied, Sing

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Anastasia Kinderman | 942 comments Our group read for January '18 will be Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward! This won the National Book Award for Fiction and has several other impressive qualifications.

I admit I'm quite curious to see what all the fuss is about! I will be moderating the discussion although I will be taking a trip halfway through the month. I'll only have my phone with me during that time so if it takes me a bit to reply or my replies look funny you all know why!

Who'll be joining in?

message 2: by Maya (new)

Maya B | 790 comments I've read mixed reviews but I'm curious as well. I'll join in on this one

message 3: by Lee (new)

Lee | 708 comments Read it. I'm in.

message 4: by Shomeret (new)

Shomeret | 69 comments I just started it. I'm on the second chapter. It looks like it's alternating viewpoints between JoJo and his mother Leonie.

message 5: by Michelle (new)

Michelle | 33 comments I'm waitlisted at the library. Can't wait to read this one.

message 6: by Veronica (new)

Veronica (veraj121) | 71 comments I read this one also. I wont give my review yet. But I would love to see what others think about it.

message 7: by Carmaleeta (new)

Carmaleeta Newchurch | 69 comments I am in.

message 8: by Jaguar (new)

Jaguar Jonez (jaguarjonez) | 8 comments I am getting in this one as well. :-)

message 9: by Maria (new)

Maria Pahlman | 2 comments I just got it from the library. It definitely made me curious since it's been everywhere.

Anastasia Kinderman | 942 comments Mine just came in the mail so I can see how to divide up the chapters haha. There are 15. How about we read the first 8 chapters by the 11th and the last 7 by the 21st? Then we can kind of discuss from there.

Feel free to post initial impressions!

message 11: by Erin (new)

Erin  | 0 comments Just put it on hold at the library.

message 12: by Lulu, The Book Reader who could. (new)

Lulu (lulureads365) | 2423 comments Mod
I’m in!

Anastasia Kinderman | 942 comments So thus far what do you all think about JoJo's struggle to be a man? About his relationship with his mother?

message 14: by Lee (new)

Lee | 708 comments I don’t believe he cares one way or the other for his Mother.

message 15: by Maya (new)

Maya B | 790 comments From reading the first few chapters he doesn't seem to care for his mother. There is a disconnect. I sense some tension

message 16: by Carmaleeta (new)

Carmaleeta Newchurch | 69 comments His mother never showed an outwardly love for JoJo, and he resents it. When he was a toddler she would give him hugs and kisses but as he grew up she stopped. It probably was her way of trying to make him a man. But there is something more, I feel, that hasn't been revealed in the early chapters. I am on chapter 8. He worships his father and tries hard to please him. His family life in general is in turmoil. His grandmother is dying of cancer, his mother is a bit flighty, and his father been in prison.

Anastasia Kinderman | 942 comments Do you think the circumstances he's growing up in have forced him to mature earlier than most children his age?

message 18: by Lee (new)

Lee | 708 comments Yes, anytime there’s an absent or unfitting parents, the child almost always growing up fast (surviving mode).

Jojo did have his Grandfather to help him, but Jojo still had to step up and be there for his little sister.

message 19: by Maya (new)

Maya B | 790 comments As I was reading I kept asking old is this kid again(13). He seems so mature like 16 or 17. Thank goodness for his grandfather's guidance. I definitely think he had to grow up fast when both parents are unstable. It seems as if he has to figure a lot of this stuff out on his own

message 20: by Lulu, The Book Reader who could. (new)

Lulu (lulureads365) | 2423 comments Mod
He didn’t really seem to care if his mother was there or not. It seems like the only people he depended on and cared about were his grandparents and his baby sister. I love his relationship with Kayla!!

I think he matured faster because his grandparents raised him. I think that happens a lot in situations like his. It’s seems as though the grandparents are getting you ready for life earlier, just in case they won’t be around long.

message 21: by Carmaleeta (new)

Carmaleeta Newchurch | 69 comments He is very mature for his age especially with taking care of his little sister.

message 22: by Erin (new)

Erin  | 0 comments I'm late to the party but I just got my copy of the book and will be starting it tomorrow. Better late than never.

message 23: by Erin (new)

Erin  | 0 comments I'm on page 88 and so far I'm really enjoying it. Jesmyn Ward is such a descriptive writer, I completely engrossed.

message 24: by Erin (new)

Erin  | 0 comments I just started reading this book today and I only have 100 pages left. This book is so engrossing.

message 25: by Maya (new)

Maya B | 790 comments I finished it last night. Can't wait to hear everyone's thoughts

message 26: by Erin (new)

Erin  | 0 comments Just finished. This book was stunning, beautifully written, and filled with compelling characters. I will never understand women like Leonie, who love their man more than their children. Such a great read.

message 27: by PS (new)

PS Erin wrote: "Just finished. This book was stunning, beautifully written, and filled with compelling characters. I will never understand women like Leonie, who love their man more than their children. Such a gre..."

I agree with you Erin, Leonie struck me as so selfish. Loved this book. Here's a link to my review:

Anastasia Kinderman | 942 comments What do you all you think, in general, about the struggles people describe about becoming a man or a woman? Do you think it's better to do that or is it overrated and should we all focus on becoming good human beings instead?

I think we all seem to agree that Leonie displays more concern for her significant other and her own demons, instead of her children. This is evident the whole car ride.

As for the ending, it was definitely interesting! How do you all interpret it?

message 29: by PS (new)

PS I'm conflicted about the ending - on the one hand, I loved it: the idea of all the ghosts living in the trees and the children being able to see them. On the other hand, I felt slightly let down by how Ritchie just disappeared after finding out about his death. I guess I felt as though Ward could have had just another section on him.

message 30: by PS (new)

PS Jesmyn Ward with the Well Read Black Girl reading group on Facebook Live

message 31: by Carmaleeta (new)

Carmaleeta Newchurch | 69 comments As for Leonie, she is insecure with herself so she can’t take care of her kids because she needs someone to take care of her. Ritchie could leave now because Pop admitted to himself what he did to that poor boy. He could have helped him escape instead of murdering him. Once there was an admission Ritchie was satisfied. It appears that Kayla has the gift her grandmother had. This could be an interesting follow-up to another book. As for the ending, the ghosts are there if they are not happy about how they died. The listing was so sad and horrific. Overall an excellent read!

message 32: by QueenAmidala28 (new)

QueenAmidala28 | 30 comments Just purchased this book and trying to catch up on the discussions . . .

message 33: by Maya (new)

Maya B | 790 comments I felt like the ending just ends. Its almost as if the author stopped writing. I'm also wondering if there will be a followup. this story was so complex that each character including the ghosts needed their own stories

message 34: by Erin (new)

Erin  | 0 comments I would love a sequel Maya! I need to know more about that world.

message 35: by Maya (new)

Maya B | 790 comments Erin wrote: "I would love a sequel Maya! I need to know more about that world."

That would definitely be a question to ask the author. There just has to be a sequel LOL

message 36: by Christina (last edited Jan 30, 2018 02:39AM) (new)

Christina (missfabularian) | 6 comments I really thought this book was masterful. I have probably read this book 3 times now, and everytime feels like I get something new. So many interesting things to discuss here. First of all...what an emotional and horrific portrayal of Parchman Farm prison. Pop, a man who strong, supportive, and such a loving figure to JoJo and Kayla, served prison time treated as a dog amd slave. Leonie is such a complex and distressing figure. JoJo is named after Michael's father, a man who covered up the murder of Leonie's brother. The way JoJo speaks about Leonie, is how Leonie speaks about Pop. She sees Pop in she disappoints both. Leonie abuses drugs to medicate her grief over her brothers death and to commune with his spirit, while at the same time maintaining this too close for comfort relationship with a family intricately linked to her brother's murder. Leonie was teased a kid because people thought of Mam to be a witch. All of the characters trust Mam as an herbalist, but they don't know that Leonie sees her brother and that is where her spiritualism comes in. Both Mam and Pop use herbs amd gris gris that saved JoJo when he was stopped by the police on the journey to pick up Michael. Leonie has a severe lack of self esteem and gleans a lot of validation from her relationship with Michael, who introduced her to Meth. Ward's writing about the wide difference on how our society views youth in blacks vs whites.... Pop was a youth when he was sent to Parchman, but considered himself a man...he even considered Ritchie man, who was incarcerated in adult prison at 12. The characters, both black and white, view fully adult white men as young boys. There is so much to talk about, just on Parchman alone.... Blacks were sent there for petty crimes, and then made to serve in brutal modern slavery with white murders overseeing them, all of this happening in contemporary America.

I could go, so much in this book...

Anastasia Kinderman | 942 comments So unofficial vote, how many people want a sequel lol

Miss Fabularian, I love the parallel you drew between JoJo and Pop. Since both his parents are in and out of his life JoJo strives to emulate Pop, following his way of 'becoming a man' you might say.
Also I hadn't noticed it originally but you're right, there is a definite difference in how black and white males are viewed (both in society and the book). I didn't think too much at the time but were there any white boys really in Parchman? All the white characters seemed to be men.
This view of black boys/man in general will have a big impact on JoJo as he continues to mature. No matter how his grandparents might try and protect him they can't stop people like the police from subjecting him to their views.

Anastasia Kinderman | 942 comments Since our February read starts on the 15th I'm extending the discussion for this one, so if you haven't joined in yet feel free to jump in and share your thoughts! Notice any social commentary the rest of us have missed?

message 39: by Lulu, The Book Reader who could. (new)

Lulu (lulureads365) | 2423 comments Mod
I would definitely read a sequel.

To me, this book wasn't lacking in any area. It was very realistic and heartbreaking, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Parchman has always had white prisoners, of course they were treated better than the black prisoners who were the majority.....this is also a reflection of the state of MS and many of it's cities and counties.

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