ARC Review

ARC Review: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

The searing and profound odyssey of a Southern family—by National Book Award-winner Jesmyn Ward.

In Jesmyn Wards’s first novel since her National Book Award-winner, Salvage the Bones, she returns to Mississippi and the grand themes of her earlier work. Confronting the realities of life in the rural South, Ward gives us an epochal story, a road novel through Mississippi’s past and present that explores the bonds of family as tested by racism and poverty. Told in Ward’s rich, lyrical language, this majestic novel is impossible to ignore.

For Pop and Mam, their daughter Leonie, and her kids Jojo and Kayla, life is hard: Mam has cancer, Pop is preoccupied by working their small parcel of land, Leonie has a meth problem, and Jojo and Kayla seek love from their grandparents rather than their absent mother. Their lives are further complicated when Leonie gets the call from the white father of her children that he’s up for parole. She quickly gathers her kids, recruits a friend for the ride, and embarks on the journey north to the Delta to collect Michael at Parchman Farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary. But no journey for a woman like Leonie through this state is without danger, and many things go wrong, sometimes dramatically.

If the trip to Parchman is rocky, the return is worse, and arriving at home doesn’t bring Leonie and her family the peace they seek. Instead, two battles ensue: one with Mississippi’s present and another with its horrific past. Raw, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful, Jesmyn Ward’s novel grapples with the ugly truths at the heart of our national story, paying tribute to Faulkner and Morrison, The Odyssey and the Old Testament, all while showcasing the major talents of this singular American voice.

Disclaimer: A huge thanks to Bloomsbury India for providing me with a review copy of this book. The thoughts, opinions and feelings expressed in this review, are however, my own! 


I am in AWE.


There are times when you need fluff; but there are times that you need dysfunctional emotional drama to keep you glued to your book; disregarding all and everything beyond the characters in the story – and that’s exactly what the author does for her readers.

This book creates a setting with multiple POVs (pretty much endeared me to the author immediately!); the main of them is that of Jojo, a young 13 year old boy who is more of a parent to his younger than his mother, Leonie has ever been. Another perspective you get is that of Leonie’s – a drug addict who is slowly being haunted by the ghost of her brother, a victim of a racist attack. Jojo and his sister live with Leonie’s parents; Mam and Pop; Mam suffering from cancer and withered by chemo and Pop troubled by his own dark past!

The author describes the plot, the place and the characters in detail, in ways that seep right into your soul – the writing is brilliant, enchanting and captivates the reader right from the start. The author has a talent of vividly describing the place, the characters and the feelings in ways that shows exactly how humans are in reality.

I adored the lyrical style of writing – even through all the horrific parts, the dysfunctional relationships and short sighted decisions; all were exquisitely captured in words; and showed that beneath the darkness of a human soul, lies the hope for a bright life.

I cannot express appropriately, or even succinctly how this author touched my soul with her words, her characters and her story – a story that could have been yours or evn mine, now or in another time!

⭐ ⭐ :Star: :Star: :Star:

Amazon Kindle | Amazon Paperback

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