Sing, Unburied, Sing is told primarily from the perspectives of Jojo, a 13-year-old boy, and his mother Leonie. Leonie's parents have raised Jojo and his younger sister more as their own children than as grandchildren while Leonie struggles with her demons. Jojo's story shows us a boy learning how to be a man, caring for his sister, dealing with the looming death of his grandmother and still navigating his relationship with his mother. I both loved and hated this book. It is beautifully written, insightful and a more truthful portrayal of a dysfunctional family than I have read before. But at the same time it is a harsh view of the world, sometimes hopeless, and often fraught with tensions that are likely never to be fully eased. I recommend you read this book with a box of tissues and loads of patience.
"A searing and profound Southern odyssey by National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward. In Jesmyn Ward's first novel since her National Book Award-winning Salvage the Bones, this singular American writer brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first-century America. Drawing on Morrison and Faulkner, The Odyssey and the Old Testament, Ward gives us an epochal story, a journey through Mississippi's past and present that is both an intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle. Ward is a major American writer, multiply awarded and universally lauded, and in Sing, Unburied, Sing she is at the height of her powers. Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, live with their grandparents, Mam and Pop, and the occasional presence of their drug-addicted mother, Leonie, on a farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Leonie is simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she's high; Mam is dying of cancer; and quiet, steady Pop tries to run the household and teach Jojo how to be a man. When the white father of Leonie's children is released from prison, she packs her kids and a friend into her car and sets out across the state for Parchman farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, on a journey rife with danger and promise. Sing, Unburied, Sing grapples with the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power, and limitations, of the bonds of family. Rich with Ward's distinctive, musical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing is a majestic new work and an essential contribution to American literature"--