Author : Jesmyn Ward
Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publication date : 1 Oct, 2017
Book length : 304 pages
Language : English
Genre : Fiction
Jojo is thirteen years old and trying to understand what it means to be a man. His mother, Leonie, is in constant conflict with herself and those around her. She is black and her children’s father is white. Embattled in ways that reflect the brutal reality of her circumstances, she wants to be a better mother, but can’t put her children above her own needs, especially her drug use. 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, a journey rife with danger and promise.
Rating : 5/5
I am thankful to the publishers for sending me this book in exchange of an honest and unbiased review.
Sing, Unburied, Sing is a book which brings in a hurricane of emotions into the reader’s mind. One time it’s sad, then hurtful, pitying, happy, longing, lone, faith, failure, jealousy and what not. It truly reflects the naked, undressed parts of a human soul. It twists and turns every inch of one’s sanity. It challenges human behaviour, duty, responsibility, ideals and most importantly, delicate choices. It boldly points out racism at it’s truest form.
Leonie, mother of two, like every other mother is expected to love her children and put their necessities first. But she is in no way near to that. In fact, it is clearly seen that she is a heavy drug addict and only finds comfort in her husband, sharing news that you all love to either of the children. It may be because of the fact that after the early death of her only brother, Given, a gruesome murder and the absence of justice done to him because of him being just another black boy killed while trying to outsmart a white guy, showed her how meaningless and utterly painful it was to take care of a little life only to one day see all of it crashing down. Whenever she looks at her children, the only feature that seems to be hers is their black skin, the one always looked down upon. Her only bliss is when she is high on drugs and can see Given.
Jojo on the other hand, finds it difficult to acknowledge his mother who never shows any signs of being one. He has grown up being looked after by his maternal grandparents while his paternal ones never seemed to love him nor his little sister. As long as he could remember, he has been taking care of the tiny human and being a constant helping hand to his Pop who would tell his storied from the time in jail. Jojo was fascinated by the tales and was always keen to know more about that one particular boy there, Richie. He always wanted to know what happened to the boy at last but was never given a proper answer until the time on his trip to Michael’s jail when only he seemed to notice Richie.
All these encounters with ghosts, both by the son and mother, seemed quite odd to me at first, since the rest of the story was very much realistic. Then it struck me that they probably saw the ghosts because they had a sort of special bonding with the ones long dead. To explain clearly, since Leonie had never really grieved or come to an understanding with Given’s death, a fragment of her mind always displayed him in front of her. She always found him when her senses were too numb to differentiate between reality and imagination. Whereas, Jojo always had this urge to know the last of Richie but since he never found the answer, the boy hovered around in his mind and thus when they came closer to the jail, his subconsciousness projected a mind formed appearance of Richie.
Then one might ask, why is there the mention of Richie’s thoughts in the book? It may be just Pop and Jojo’s minds stitching together the last pieces of Richie from their minds.
I might be wrong. I might someday find another explanation to it. I might just be overthinking. But then again everyone is allowed to interpret stories in their own way, right?
An intriguing, engrossing, unforgettable story painted all over with profound thoughts, harsh reality and heart wrenching pain.
I would recommend each and every book lover to read this absolutely amazing book at least once in a lifetime.