Book Review: Sing, Unburied, Sing

sing unburied sing

There are limits to what we can do for family…even when we want to do more.

Jojo, at 13, is more of an adult than his own parents.  He’s trying to make sense of his life, but deep down he knows several truths:

  • There is only so much help his grandfather can offer, especially as his grandmother is dying
  • His mother will neither want nor be able to think of him and his sister before feeding her own drug habit
  • His white father can’t pretend to know him
  • He must act as the man of the household, even if it means emotionally disassociating yourself from your own blood

These truths become all the more clear when Jojo’s mother, Leonie, packs him, his sister, and a friend into her car to pick up his father who has just been released from prison.  The drive through rural Mississippi reveals his mother’s character and his grandfather’s past.

Jesmyn Ward’s writing is almost melodic.  There is a poetic cadence to the words that makes you almost nostalgic…until you realize this is no situation you would ever wish to be in.  While a family drama, this novel is also a depiction of the deeply rural South, which has not quite yet escaped the ghosts of its past.

4 out of 5 stars.