2022 & 2023 Reading Challenge discussion

Sing, Unburied, Sing
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message 1: by Mary Pat (new)

Mary Pat | 2186 comments This thread is to discuss Jesmyn Ward‘s book, Sing, Unburied, Sing.


***Please remember to mark spoilers.***

Participants: Sheila, Kristin


message 2: by Mary Pat (new)

Mary Pat | 2186 comments Suggested break down of reading so that you can check in and let us know how you're doing. The following breakdown is purely a suggestion and is therefore not set in stone.

Rather than putting dates for each section I've done it so that it takes into account that not everybody will necessarily have the book at the same time.

Week 1: 71
Week 2: 71
Week 3: 71
Week 4: 71



Sheila I think the author did a great job of portraying what a family living with addiction is like. The constant uncertainty, the lack of trust and the distance it creates between members.


Kara (karaayako) | 3980 comments I read this recently and LOVED it. Looking forward to the discussion!


Jenn I just started this on Sunday, so I’ll plan to discuss with you as I go.


Sheila Kristin,
I too was shocked by River’s action! I have to think it was the only way he could think of to “save” Richie.
The whole story begs to question how much of who we are is due to not just our past but the pasts of our families?
What do carry from generation to generation?


Jenn I just finished the book tonight. I didn't love it like others. I thought the writing was beautiful and poetic, but it just didn't seem to fit with the characters narrating the story. The voices of Jojo and Leonie didn't seem authentic to me because given their ages, education, life stories, I just didn't see them speaking that way. It was an interesting mix of grammatically incorrect English with super vocabulary and a knack for description.

Much of what happens in this book is hard to read. I didn't get a sense of hope in this story. I expected River to do what he did. I expected it long before the story set it up. Everything that happened in the story was depressing, which is usually fine for me because I like realistic fiction. The problem was that so much in the story wasn't realistic. This was an interesting and unique book, but ultimately not a favorite for me.


Jenn Kristin wrote: "Thank you, Jenn, for sharing your thoughts. It can be difficult to share them when it goes against popular opinion, or the opinion of other people you are discussing a book with! I read this last m..."

I didn't think the book was bad, so I would read her other work. Overall, I thought this one was just ok. I can appreciate the artistic quality of the book and the author is definitely a gifted writer. Maybe the extremes of the hardest reality (prison, murder, rape, death, drug addiction, child neglect, racism) and the talking ghosts just didn't belong in the same book for me.


Susy (susysstories) Jenn wrote: "The voices of Jojo and Leonie didn't seem authentic to me because given their ages, education, life stories, I just didn't see them speaking that way.."

Like Kristin I often miss such details and also, I think my English just isn't good enough to pick up on this, so (luckily) to me their voices sounded authentic enough.

Jenn wrote: "Maybe the extremes of the hardest reality (prison, murder, rape, death, drug addiction, child neglect, racism) and the talking ghosts just didn't belong in the same book for me."

Yes, like two books mixed together. On the other hand I know from experience that a lot of children living in that kind of reality often do escape into their fantasy (if I'm saying this right)...which makes it all the more a sad, depressing story.


message 10: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane (juniperlake) | 7 comments I heard Jesmyn West talk about this book. Someone asked her whether she worried about taking on the Central American use of Magic Realism. Jesmyn was so humble. She said she's always worried about getting that question, but this was the first time it had been asked. She did think about whether she was appropriating another culture's literary device, but decided that black lives were so surreal that it made perfect sense to her to include magic and ghosts. I think because of the reality of so many black lives, the only way they can be shared an borne is through some kind of magic realism. I agree, Susy...the imagination is often the only way that children can survive.


message 11: by Kara (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kara (karaayako) | 3980 comments Jane wrote: "I heard Jesmyn West talk about this book. Someone asked her whether she worried about taking on the Central American use of Magic Realism. Jesmyn was so humble. She said she's always worried about ..."

Thanks for sharing this, Jane--this makes a ton of sense to me. I really enjoyed the magical realism parts of the book.


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Sing, Unburied, Sing (other topics)

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