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Publisher's Summary

WINNER of the NATIONAL BOOK AWARD for FICTION Finalist for the Kirkus Prize Finalist for the Andrew Carnegie Medal Publishers Weekly Top 10 of 2017
"The heart of Jesmyn Ward's Sing, Unburied, Sing is story - the yearning for a narrative to help us understand ourselves, the pain of the gaps we'll never fill, the truths that are failed by words and must be translated through ritual and song...Ward's writing throbs with life, grief, and love, and this book is the kind that makes you ache to return to it." (Buzzfeed)
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 21st-century America. An intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle, Sing, Unburied, Sing journeys through Mississippi's past and present, examining the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power - and limitations - of family bonds.
Jojo is 13 years old and trying to understand what it means to be a man. He doesn't lack in fathers to study, chief among them his black grandfather, Pop. But there are other men who complicate his understanding: his absent white father, Michael, who is being released from prison; his absent white grandfather, Big Joseph, who won't acknowledge his existence; and the memories of his dead uncle, Given, who died as a teenager.
His mother, Leonie, is an inconsistent presence in his and his toddler sister's lives. She is an imperfect mother in constant conflict with herself and those around her. She is black, and her children's father is white. She wants to be a better mother but can't put her children above her own needs, especially her drug use. Simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she's high, Leonie is embattled in ways that reflect the brutal reality of her circumstances.
When the children's father is released from prison, Leonie packs her kids and a friend into her car and drives north to the heart of Mississippi and Parchman Farm, the state penitentiary. At Parchman, there is another 13-year-old boy, the ghost of a dead inmate who carries all of the ugly history of the South with him in his wandering. He, too, has something to teach Jojo about fathers and sons, about legacies, about violence, about love.
Rich with Ward's distinctive, lyrical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing is a majestic new work and an unforgettable family story.
©2017 Jesmyn Ward (P)2017 Simon & Schuster Audio
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Jacqueline Buckles on 09-23-17

Very good read, but way too short

The story itself was wonderful, but it seems like it was too short and I still have many questions. Hopefully there will be a sequel to this book.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful


By Margaret on 11-13-17

Lyric & sensual writing, devastating story

I would not have appreciated spoilers for this novel, and I've seen plenty in other reviews of Ward's book. So I'll keep it short. This has the lyric power and the historic and literary importance of Toni Morrison's Beloved, but unlike in Beloved, the reader knows what the hell is going on. The setting and themes are contemporary, but you will never look at rural drug abuse or the racist injustices of the Old South in the same way after living life in JoJo's skin. Ward is particularly powerful when describing sensory perceptions. She's won one National Book Award; with Sing, Unburied, Sing, she deserves a second.

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21 of 24 people found this review helpful

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