Sing, Unburied, Sing

Sing, Unburied, Sing

Book - 2017
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Ward (Salvage the Bones) tells the story of three generations of a struggling Mississippi family in this astonishing novel. "We don't walk no straight lines. It's all happening at once. All of it. We all here at once." This is the explanation 13-year-old Jojo is provided by his grandmother, the family matriarch, on her deathbed. "I'll be on the other side of the door," she reassures him, "With everybody else that's gone before." Jojo and his little sister, Kayla, live with their grandparents, while Leonie, their mother, drifts in and out of their lives, causing chaos. Snorting coke one night, Leonie explains, "A clean burning shot through my bones, and then I forgot. The shoes I didn't buy, the melted cake ..." Leonie wants to be a better mother, and when Jojo's and Kayla's father is released from prison, Leonie takes the kids with her, hoping for a loving reunion, but what she gets instead is a harrowing drive across a muggy landscape haunted by hatred. Throughout the novel, though, are beautifully crafted moments of tenderness. When the dead, including Leonie's murdered brother, make their appearances and their demands, no one in the family's surprised. But their stories are deeply affecting, in no small part because of Ward's brilliant writing and compassionate eye. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Publisher: Waterville, Maine : Wheeler Publishing, a part of Gale, a Cengage Company, 2017
Edition: Large print edition
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781432846527
1432846523
Characteristics: 367 pages ; 23 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

Like in Beloved, these characters are haunted, literally and figuratively, by America's violent past and by the choices made under its weight.

List - Haunted
GRPL_staffpicks Oct 03, 2019

The ghost of our bloody past is perhaps the most terrifying.


From the critics


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l
Laurliz
Oct 02, 2020

I should remember if I read this, but can't.

a
alibraryguy
Sep 10, 2020

This National Book Award winner was undeserving of the prize. Set in Mississippi, it is the story of an unfit mother, her teenage son and infant daughter, and the car trip they take to pick up the children’s white father when he is released from prison. There was a lot of throwing up in this novel, with Kayla, the infant, getting carsick. And then the concoction made up of roadside plants that Leonie gives her daughter only makes her sicker, resulting in more throwing up. And to top it all off, there are ghosts in the story that only Leonie and her son, Jojo, can see and talk with. Purportedly, an exposition on racism and the legacy of slavery, this novel was shackled by bad writing and a fuzzy narrative . . . and a lot of throwing up.

Hillsboro_JeanineM Jun 23, 2020

Clear your schedule so that you can read this book uninterrupted. It is a beautifully written with well-developed characters. It is a generational story with ghosts and folk remedies. You can feel the humidity. It brought to mind Nina Simone singing "Mississippi goddamn" and a road trip I took through the South many years ago.

j
JoyERancatore
Jun 10, 2020

Jesmyn Ward has a gift for presenting the horrors of our world in such a captivating, haunting manner, her reader cannot leave the final page the same person he or she was at its first.

Sing, Unburied, Sing uncovers the realities of drug use's effects on users, their families and their communities as well as the far-reaching effects of racism and injustice on society.

I love the way Jesmyn wove the three first-person narrators through the book. I found myself empathizing and sympathizing with all three. As with her other books, this is a hard, hard story to witness, but it is one we all need to read and understand and commit to change.

p
posie12
Dec 12, 2019

So depressing. Child abuse. child neglect, animal abuse, meth manufacturing, cocaine use. I couldn't finish it.

multcolib_susannel Sep 07, 2019

Vibrant writing, complex characters and dark secrets tell this compelling story of three generations of an African-American family in Mississippi.

v
vkreads
Aug 10, 2019

This book the National Book Award.
I appreciated reading what might be called 'spoken dialect' of the characters. If only the slaughtering of the goat for food had been placed later in the book, after establishing the characters more deeply within their living situation.
I stopped reading at pg 50. I had given the story a fair enough chance.

West also won National Book Award for a previous book. Salvage the Bones

f
firefly5
Apr 12, 2019

The boy helps his granddad kill a goat, very bloody and graphic. Then the grandad carries the liver to the house to cook for his wife. Oh my goodness, almost made me gag. There are better books to read.

WPLBookClub Feb 28, 2019

The Whistler Public Library & Armchair Books Community Book Club discussed Sing, Unburied, Sing as our Black History Month pick. We had a great chat about this book - opinions varied widely, but everyone had thoughts and questions to share, regardless of whether they "enjoyed" the story.

Some highlights of our discussion (no spoilers!):
- The supernatural elements of the story - the passing along of certain powers/abilities from generation to generation; the role played by ghosts, and whether or not they improved or detracted from the story
- Leonie's parenting skills, or lack thereof - what circumstances in her life lead her to be so negligent?
- Misty's role as Leonie's white friend, and the ways her privilege makes life easier for her

j
jmreid1220
Dec 29, 2018

On Barack Obama's Top Books of 2017

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ranvapa
Mar 17, 2018

ranvapa thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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abbi_g
Dec 27, 2018

He wasn't nothing but a boy, Jojo. They kill animals better than that.

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