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Mudbound by Hillary Jordan


by Hillary Jordan

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Showing 1-5 of 136 (next | show all)
What a book! I can't seem to compose my true thoughts regarding this book. Beautiful writing style on such a sad topic. I was engrossed the entire time; thinking of the book when I had to be away from it! In my eyes, that is an incredible accomplishment! ( )
  patsaintsfan | Apr 15, 2014 |
A terribly tragic tale, mired in mud but still full of love. How the author gets into the minds of all these heroic characters is beyond me, for she seems to know their thoughts, I thought she spoke especially well for Ronsel.

Life is going along fine when a twist of fate causes Henry to move his family without consulting his wife. Henry's heart belongs to the land. He has a strong and stoic desire to farm the land. He tries to be considerate of Laura's needs but his plans don't work out as well as he and Laura had hoped. Instead of the lovely farmhouse with the fig tree in the backyard, Laura finds herself stuck in a rundown shack with her cantankerous, mean spirited father-in-law to raise her little girls.

Laura does her best to put up with the difficult situation she is dropped into. When needed, she and Henry enlist the aid of her tenant sharecropper, Florence. At first it seems as if a tentative friendship might build between Florence and Laura bonded by their strong Mother's love. Florence reluctantly agrees to help Laura for the same reason; she sees the mother's love Laura has for her children. At times it seems as if Laura is almost happy in a run down shack far from town, friends and family and surrounded by mud when the bridge is out, especially after Henry's brother Jamie arrives. Even Henry notices that Laura sings when Jamie is around and only hums around him.

The two families have more than children and farming to deal with however. Each has a returning war hero. Ronsel, Florence and Haps son, has always had a shine. In the war, his black tank unit was one chosen by Roosevelt to fight because of their excellence. In Europe, Ronsel sees a different world than the one he knew in down south in America, and it changes him.

Jamie, the doted upon younger brother of Henry also comes back from the war, but with no dreams and some haunting memories, which he tries to drown in drink and women. He helps Henry out on the farm, spreading his charm like butter. When Ronsel and Jamie meet up theirs is the forbidden friendship that is doomed.

This multi-generational story is told in alternating voices of haunting historical significance. ( )
  exbrook | Feb 11, 2014 |
Interesting story about a white family of farmers in Mississippi in the 1940's. Prejudice is rampant except for the boys returning from the war. i liked that each chapter was narrated by different characters. This was a well researched book with many twists and turns. ( )
  janismack | Dec 5, 2013 |
In Hillary Jordan's remarkable novel, six different voices tell the story of racism and hatred in the Deep South in the years after WWII. Jordan successfully turns the land and the weather into two other important characters. The subject matter makes it an emotionally wrenching book, but credit goes to Jordan for telling a story with such strong emotional resonance. ( )
  eapalmer | Oct 17, 2013 |
This is another book that i struggle to understand. Tells of a rural Mississippi farm of the late 40s, when 2 boys return from fighting. In some ways they are very similar, both have a presence and charm, both are damaged goods, bearing scars in the mind and both find the world they have returned to a very different place from the life they had become accustomed to. The big difference is their colour - Jamie is white, Ronsell is black and the son of tenant farmers working Jamie's brother's land. How the two react and interact with their families and the neighbourhood is the key to the story.
There are positive elements, Laura getting a doctor for Hap's leg, the way the two women interact over the children. but there is a sense of impending doom, aided by the opening chapter, where the is a grave being dug. How pappy (one of the nastiest characters imaaginable) can to his deserving end is one of the story strands. The racism is stark and horrible and the major event is just evil. Makes me ashamed and angry and I will never understand it.
It's told in several voices and it took a while for the style to work and the voices to become differentiated. But as the story gathers pace the voices become distinct and it worked very well.
I can't say i enjoyed it. it is powerful and well told, but I fail to understand the actions and attitudes portrayed, meaning I'm giving this a rather mixed feelings 3 stars. ( )
  Helenliz | Oct 14, 2013 |
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If I could do it, I'd do no writing at all here. It would be photographs; the rest would be fragments of cloth. bits of cotton, lumps of earth, records of speech, pieces of wood and iron, phials of odors, plates of food and of excrement.... A piece of the body torn out by the roots might be more to the point.----James Agee, "Let us Now Praise Famous Men"
To Mother, Gay and Nana, for the stories
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Henry and I dug the hole seven feet deep.
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Book description
In this award-winning portrait of two families caught up in the blind hatred of a small Southern town, prejudice takes many forms-some subtle, some ruthless. Mudbound is the saga of the McAllan family, who struggle to survive on a remote ramshackle farm, and the Jacksons, their black sharecroppers. When two sons return from WWII to work the land, the unlikely friendship between these brothers-in-arms-one white, one black-arouses the passions of their neighbors. As the men and women of each family tell their version of events we are drawn into their lives. Striving for love and honor is a brutal time and place, they become players in a tragedy on the grandest scale and find reemption where they least expect it. -back of book
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 156512569X, Hardcover)

Jordan won the 2006 Bellwether Prize for Mudbound, her first novel. The prize was founded by Barbara Kingsolver to reward books of conscience, social responsibility, and literary merit. In addition to meeting all of the above qualifications, Jordan has written a story filled with characters as real and compelling as anyone we know.

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

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:36:35 -0400)

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In 1946, Laura McAllan tries to adjust after moving with her husband and two children to an isolated cotton farm in the Mississipi Delta.

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