Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel

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Short-listed for the National Book Award, Jesmyn Ward’s brilliant novel Sing, Unburied, Sing defies a simple review. It is impossible to capture the hauntingly gorgeous prose and heartbreakingly human need in this novel without running the risk of missing some key detail. The book begs to be read and reread, shared and discussed. It is the kind of novel you finish reading and immediately want to begin again, to plunge yourself into the depths of these lives, these people, all over again, if only so you can be with them in their hungry search for home.

Thirteen-year-old Jojo is brother and protector to his two-year-old sister, Kayla, their bond shaped by their father, Michael’s, absence and their mother, Leonie’s, indifference. The children accompany their mother and a friend to pick Michael up when he is released from Parchman prison, a trip that involves adults in the throes of drug addiction neglecting children. On that trip, Jojo begins to see the figure of a boy, Richie, who he knows from stories Pop, his grandfather, has told him. Jojo doesn’t understand quite what he is seeing, though he knows Mam, his grandmother, has rituals and beliefs that would allow for communing with the dead. It isn’t until the road trip ends, and Jojo is home, that he sees what Richie needs from him.

Sing, Unburied, Sing isn’t about this one story, though. It’s also about daughters who feel like disappointments and sons who defy the racism of their parents. It’s about the powerful and destructive force of love in a body desperate enough to risk everything. It’s about parents grieving dead children, and children who do and see far too much too soon. It’s about the horror and the sadness and the anger of a world that feels hopeless, and it’s about the abundant and astounding joy that lives there, too.


Reviewed By:

Author Jesmyn Ward
Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 304 pages
Publisher Scribner
Publish Date 2017-Sep-05
ISBN 9781501126062
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue October 2017
Category Modern Literature
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