February 20, 2018

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward | Book Review

The African American family at the center of Jesmyn Ward's Sing, Unburied, Sing is broken and hurt in many different ways. Pop, the family's patriarch, is burdened by a secret from his time in prison even as he tries to be present for his grandkids and his dying wife. She's stuck in the bedroom slowly surrendering to cancer that her grandson Jojo says has "...dried her up and hollowed her out the way the sun and the air do water oaks." Jojo's thirteen, mature for his age and saddled with responsibility of caring for his baby sister Kayla but he's still a child. His mom is scattered, a selfish, drug addict who's so blindly intoxicated by feelings for Michael that she numbs herself to everything that signals their incompatibility including the hurt his racist family has inflicted upon hers. She and Jojo take turns narrating Sing, Unburied, Sing, leading us on a journey through their world where the dead speak and the earth is alive.

I discovered the author Jesmyn Ward via a promotional email from Simon & Schuster which I unwittingly signed up for after purchasing Gabrielle Union's We're Going to Need More Wine. The book title and its cover art displayed in the email caught my attention so I did a little online research ordered this title and Salvage the Bones. Jesmyn displays an acute awareness of America's racial history, of small town life, the complexity of human existence. Her writing is lyrical and has an entrancing old school flavor. She's a great storyteller. I'm pleased with Sing, Unburied, Sing but not ecstatic about the tale itself. Regardless, Jesmyn Ward gives off the aura of an author destined for greater things and I'll undoubtedly be keeping up with her literary offerings.
This is my second book pick for my literary celebration of Black History Month 2018. Read the review of my first book pick, Gabrielle Union's We're Going to Need More Wine. Catch up on last year's selection HERE

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