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The Residue Years Hardcover – August 20, 2013
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“[A] powerful debut... full of impossible hope... Jackson's prose has a spoken-word cadence, the language flying off the page with percussive energy... There is warmth and wit, and a hard-won wisdom.” ―Roxane Gay, The New York Times Book Review
“A fresh new voice in fiction.” ―O, The Oprah Magazine
“Jackson's poetic prose is a joy to read... The ways mother and son grapple with social judgment and limited choices are provocative and timely.” ―Booklist
“Completely gripping... Beautifully written and sad and hopeful in a way that aches.” ―Portland Mercury
“Authenticity and a rhythmic prose propel [this] debut novel.” ―Time Out New York
“I was touched by characters whose lives were often as real for me as my memories of growing up. The language invented to tell their stories engages, challenges, clarifies the American language, claiming it, enlarging it.” ―John Edgar Wideman, author of Fanon, Philadelphia Fire, and Brothers and Keepers
“In this raw heartwreck of a novel, every bit of personal wisdom is hard-won. Here is Grace, mother of Champ: 'Some people are latecomers to themselves, but who we are will soon enough surround us.' It's a searing claim and prophecy about lives severely tested. The author is entirely persuasive, such that Grace and her sons, given vivid voice, are one of the fictional families I have cared about most.” ―Amy Hempel, author of The Collected Stories
“The language in this book is as gut-wrenching as it is stunning, at once an elegy and an anthem. The Residue Years is a story about doing what you must until you can do what you want. But most of all, it is about all the sacrifices we're willing to make for love.” ―Maaza Mengiste, author of Beneath the Lion's Gaze
“It's so tough to write beautifully about ugly things, but Mitchell S. Jackson makes it look easy. The Residue Years is the story of a man and woman trying their best to overcome the enormous hurdles life has put in front of them, two portraits of the courageous battle to simply do one's best. This is a memorable, powerful novel and Mitchell S. Jackson is a genuine talent.” ―Victor LaValle, author of The Devil in Silver
“Mitchell S. Jackson writes brilliant sentences, so full of the energy and beauty and tragedy of life. The Residue Years is an amazing first novel that also introduces an important new voice in literary fiction.” ―Michael Kimball, author of Big Ray
“I know these characters well: Champ with his swagger and invincibility, doing all he can to protect his fiercely beating heart. Grace, held together with polish and a prayer, trying to make a way when there isn't one. Both of them longing, for a better life, a clear path out of their predicaments. I know the language they speak: voices redolent of struggle and the South displaced to our country's far northwestern corner: Portland, Oregon. A wrenchingly beautiful debut by a writer to be reckoned with, The Residue Years marks the beginning of a most promising career.” ―Jesmyn Ward, author of Salvage the Bones and Men We Reaped
“There will be temptation to put Mitchell Jackson's formidable debut novel in a convenient box but a true reading defies segregation. The Residue Years speaks in melodies about a grim world you think you know yet likely never inhabited. See the face of systemic racism, gentrification, failed hoop dreams, and a misguided drug war that makes criminals of victims. Feel the breaking heart. And also be lifted up; this fantastic novel speaks ultimately of love.” ―Robb Todd, author of Steal Me For Your Stories
Top Customer Reviews
The Residue Years is a difficult book to review because it has many themes and issues it brings to light. Mitchell S. Jackson brilliantly expresses the plight of many urban families that try and try to do their best(even if by less than legal means) and still never seem to get anywhere. It is evident during Champ's chapters that he is intelligent and is even teased as being a college boy. His goal of getting a house leads him on a path that is foreshadowed in the beginning of the novel. Although I knew where his profession as a drug-dealer would lead him, I needed to find out how.
Grace is as equally intriguing as her son Champ is. By using first-person Jackson is able to really allow readers insight to her thought processes. We can truly understand her struggle with staying straight and what it means for her if she fails. I wanted so much for her to do well and overcome her obstacles and really redeem herself as a mother.
On many levels, although the characters are in an urban setting, their goals are not unlike others all across America. It's a pretty universal idea to want a family that's together living in a home that is their own. For Champ, owning this house means so much. Enough so that he risks his future to obtain it.Read more ›
Without giving anything away, I realize now that I need to re-read at least the first part of the book in order to understand Grace, the mother's, original motivation that led to her decline. I seem to have missed that. I suspect that's my fault and not the author's.
If you're interested in urban America, particularly in such a white city as Portland, you'll likely enjoy this book. High schoolers should read and discuss it.
The story focuses on Grace, a mother who has just been released from court-ordered rehab for crack cocaine, and her eldest son, Champ, a former hotshot on the high school basketball team who has since become a dealer. With Grace newly sober and back in her sons' world, she is looking to reclaim her former life as a loving mother, breadwinner and devout believer. But the walls of her world are confined by her past: her halfway house is far from the minimum wage job she finally secures, and there doesn't seem to be a way forward when even careful planning and penny pinching doesn't pay off. Champ, on the other hand, has been waiting for his mother's release, carefully stashing money to buy the house they lived in when he was a child, still standing in a gentrifying area of Portland.
Both have the best intentions, but Jackson isn't writing a made-for-TV story of triumph against the odds. Grace and Champ are lovable, warm-blooded and, at their best, intensely insightful. Champ reads like a still-rising star, full of joie de vivre and immaturity. His confidence and desire to do right are irresistible, if ultimately markers of naivety. Grace, though more worn down, also feels exceptional. She takes herself seriously as a woman conquering her former life, and her seriousness commands respect.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Unique, clever, heartbreaking, funny, witty and smart as hell, this book will pull you in every direction, sometimes all at once. Love, love, loved it. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Christine
This is the kind of book where you want to root for the characters, but you can see what's going to end up happening right from the beginning. Read morePublished 6 months ago by R. G.
The members of Turning Pages Book Club, felt that this was a very sad story of a young man who had a lot of potential ,but because of a poor decision and being blinded by his... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Charlie Lomax, Turning Pages Book Club
Great book that covers an interesting time in a interesting place. A really great piece of work covering a time in NE Portland where things were different. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Michael Appleseed
read. this. book. mr. jackson gives us, in his lead character, a first person view not just from the eyes but also from inside the mind and enormous heart of one young black... Read morePublished 12 months ago by cabobobbo
I enjoyed the book. I had to reread a few pages to really enjoy the process. The writer wrote like I never read before. To describe or explain this book I have to read it again. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Charles2x
This is the only book you need this year! The pace,plot and POV are spot on and the language is superb! Champ and Grace share a part of us all... Read morePublished 14 months ago by bookie140