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An Amazon Book with Buzz: "Punch Me Up to the Gods" by Brian Broome
"One of the most electrifying, powerful, simply spectacular memoirs I—or you— have ever read." —Augusten Burroughs Learn more
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"A supremely readable debut novel . . . Mudbound is packed with drama. Pick it up, then pass it on."
"A compelling family tragedy, a confluence of romantic attraction and racial hatred that eventually falls like an avalanche . . . An engaging story."
—The Washington Post
"The forces of change and resistance collide with terrible consequences."
—The New York Times
"Stunning. . . . You are truly taken there by Jordan's powerful, evocative writing and complex characters."
—The Boston Globe
"By the end of the very short first chapter, I was completely hooked . . . This inside understanding of conflicting emotions and motivations leads to a complicated stew in which the distinction between good and evil isn't always clear. This is a book in which love and rage cohabit. This is a book that made me cry."
"Mudbound dramatizes the human cost of unthinking hatred . . . That Hillary Jordan makes a hopeful ending seem possible, after the violence and injustice that precedes it, is a tribute to the novel's voices and the contribution each makes to the story . . . [They] live in the novel as individuals, black and white, which gives Mudbound its impact."
—Atlanta Journal Constitution
"Mudbound is as much a tale of racism as it is the transcending powers of love and friendship."
—Austin American Statesman
"An absorbing debut novel . . . Is it too early to say, after just one book, that here's a voice that will echo for years to come?"
—San Antonio Express News
"Mudbound argues for humanity and equality, while highlighting the effects of war. For a historical novel, it has a most contemporary theme . . . [The] mixture of the predictable and the unpredictable will keep readers turning the pages. . . . It feels like a classic tragedy, whirling toward a climax . . . [An] ambitious first novel."
—Dallas Morning News
"Mudbound, which is the 2006 winner of Barbara Kingsolver's Bellwether Award, founded to recognize literature of social responsibility, does an excellent job of capturing the impacts of racism both casual and deliberate."
"A superbly rendered depiction of the fury and terror wrought by racism."
"[A] sophisticated, complex first novel."
—Booklist, starred review
"[A] poignant and moving debut novel. . . . Jordan faultlessly portrays the values of the 1940s as she builds to a stunning conclusion. Highly recommended."
—Library Journal, starred review
“A confidently executed novel.”
"This is storytelling at the height of its powers: the ache of wrongs not yet made right, the fierce attendance of history made as real as rain, as true as this minute. Hillary Jordan writes with the force of a Delta storm. Her characters walked straight out of 1940's Mississippi and into the part of my brain where sympathy and anger and love reside, leaving my heart racing. They are with me still."
“A real page turner—a tangle of history, tragedy and romance powered by guilt, moral indignation and a near chorus of unstoppable voices. Any reader will appreciate the overlap of forbidden loves and deadly secrets.”
It is 1946 in the Mississippi Delta, where Memphis-bred Laura McAllan is struggling to adjust to farm life, rear her daughters with a modicum of manners and gentility, and be the wife her land-loving husband, Henry, wants her to be. It is an uphill battle every day. Things started badly when Henry's trusting nature resulted in the family being done out of a nice house in town, thus relegating them to a shack on their property. In addition, Henry's father, Pappy, a sour, mean-spirited devil of a man, moves in with them.
The real heart of the story, however, is the friendship between Jamie, Henry's too-charming brother, and Ronsel Jackson, son of sharecroppers who live on the McAllan farm. They have both returned from the war changed men: Jamie has developed a deep love for alcohol and has recurring nightmares; Ronsel, after fighting valiantly for his country and being seen as a man by the world outside the South, is now back to being just another black "boy."
Told in alternating chapters by Laura, Henry, Jamie, Ronsel, and his parents, Florence and Hap, the story unfolds with a chilling inevitability. Jordan's writing and perfect control of the material lift it from being another "ain't-it-awful" tale to a heart-rending story of deep, mindless prejudice and cruelty. This eminently readable and enjoyable story is a worthy recipient of Kingsolver's prize and others as well. --Valerie Ryan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
- ASIN : B003I1WY20
- Publisher : Algonquin Books (March 4, 2008)
- Publication date : March 4, 2008
- Language : English
- File size : 2170 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 353 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #246,011 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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Anyone who enjoys great writing and a true life account of one place in time we'll love this book. No one will regret reading. Super enjoyable!
There were several times when reading this novel was hard to do. As an African American woman and mother of a young adult male, reading about the harrowing times of my people and our sons was a strain. The climatic scene with Ronsel will stay with me for awhile.
I didn't favor one character over another. Each was written true to the time and their respective station in life with no real surprises to their character or actions....just like the story itself.
By Ashleyann on September 18, 2019
Some people don't like the end, but I think it made the book a more successful novel. This is an incredibly painful period of American history, and whether white Americans deserve it or not, the glimmer of hope rising from the Mississippi mud was appreciated.
Top reviews from other countries
This story starts off with a death, and the attempt to dig a grave in the thick mud, before the rain returns. And thus we find ourselves in the Mississippi Delta region in 1946. As we are told what happened up unto the death Laura, a character here ponders when a story really starts, and indeed later in the book another character wonders when a story really ends, making us concentrate upon the fact that this is an incident in a life, and as we all know our lives are made up of incidents.
As Henry takes his wife and children from their relatively comfortable lives in Memphis he is relocating to the Delta, to start farming, which is in his blood. Due to his being conned so Laura and the girls find that they won’t be living in a house in town, but in the shack on the farmland, living near the tenants on some of the land that Henry now owns.
With men returning from the War so Henry awaits the return of his little brother, Jamie in the hopes that he will help out on the land, and black tenants on the land, the Jacksons, eagerly wait for the return of their eldest son, Ronsel to help them. But war does strange things to those who have fought and survived them, and both these men are changed. For Ronsel he has been treated as a normal person by Europeans, and not just another lowly black person. But back in Mississippi it is back to the racism and bigotry of every day, with segregation and being downtrodden.
With Henry and Jamie’s father living in the farm house, so the sons have to put up with him and his ways, and for Jamie the constant nagging he has to contend with. Taking us into the deep South of the period we can see the effects and humiliations felt by the black community, the harshness of lives working and living on farms, trying to scratch a living, as well as the various strains between family members.
Forging a powerful tale here, we are not only reminded of the horrors of war, and particularly those of the Second World War, but also the troubles caused by ignorance as regards racism and bigotry. With alcoholism and adultery added to the mix along with alienation, and an unforgiving life working on a farm this is something that once you start just pulls you in, bringing memorable characters and a landscape and period fully to life.
The use of different narrator/characters does not always work, but here Hillary Jordan exploits fully the possibilities this form offers. Interestingly it is only the odious Pappy, of the major characters, whom we are not taken inside. There would be little there but self-regard and bigotry. As Laura, the character to which we are brought closest, expands as a person and as a moral force in the novel, so Jamie degenerates, not in values but in his ability to hold himself together in the aftermath of all he has suffered as a bomber pilot. Henry, Laura's husband, trapped in his own rigidity moves neither forwards nor backwards. There is a basic decency beneath his ingrained outlook, but no real possibility of moral growth.
The Jackson family are presented without sentimentality, both in their family relationships and in their constrained involvement with the McAllans. Florence is in some ways the most powerful character in the book, quicker to see than anyone and closest to a truly tragic figure.
The novel does operate within its deeply rooted time frame, but its life extends far beyond the deep south of the 1940s. Quite apart from the issues, social and psychological, that makes this a serious book worthy of serious attention, it is also a cracking good read, as difficult to put down as the best of crime thrillers.