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Sing, Unburied, Sing Review

Sing, Unburied, Sing

Jesmyn Ward


September 5, 2017

Fiction - Contemporary


A thirteen-year-old learning what it takes to be a man. A mother wanting to hide away from the pain. Together they learn you cannot run from the ghosts of the past… literally.

Jojo, loves his family, especially his Pop, Mam, and younger sister, Kayla. He learns quickly that they need to stick together given the color of their skin, even though his father is white. His mother, Leonie, struggles with the loss of her brother and gets high in order to keep him close. So, when Michael, Jojo’s father, is released from Parchman prison farm, Leonie packs the kids up to travel north to pick him up. Throughout the journey of Mississippi, both Jojo and Leonie learn you have to face the past in order to move towards the future.

In Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing the reader is taken inside the minds of Jojo and Leonie. This process allows the reader to “feel” all the emotions the character is going through. One can cringe along with Jojo every time he thinks he’s going to get hit, or cry with Leonie as her brother fades away again, or even feel warm inside when Mam holds their hands.

Take caution, though, as there are numerous triggers from physical abuse (including adults hitting kids), lynching, racism, abuse of power, rape, drug addiction, and cancer, in this story. There is also a multitude of profanity. However, the profanity was not enough to distract the reader from the story, which is why this book gets 4 out of 5 stars.

Jesmyn Ward writes an interesting story of history that brings the emotional aspect to the forefront. An excellent read for anyone wanting to understand the nuances of the past.

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