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Mudbound by Hillary Jordan


by Hillary Jordan

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I read this book because it was a winner of the Bellwether Prize for Fiction. This award was started by Barbara Kingsolver to recognize literature in the area of social justice. This novel is set in the deep South shortly after World War II. It is the story of two families, one white and one black. Both families welcome celebrated soldiers home from the war in Europe, but the community sees the two young veterans quite differently. Each is haunted by their own experiences in the war and establish a relationship that the KKK dominated society will not tolerate. The 20 chapters in this novel are each narrated by one of six different characters, reminding me of the way Poisonwood Bible is written. It is a story of fierce family love and simmering family hatred. It is a story of uneasy racial tolerance and dramatic racial bigotry. Even though it was often depressing, I liked it. If Hillary Jordan writes another book, I would definitely read it. ( )
  TheresaCIncinnati | Aug 17, 2015 |
This book is exactly what I was looking for. It takes place in the Deep South after World War II and deals with a lot of intense issues, as you can imagine. It was one of those books that was really easy to read, and just a good story. It is told from the perspective of six different characters, which I always love. I guess what I liked most about the characters is that they all seemed very real.

Well, I couldn't decide if I should give this book 4 or 5 stars. I actually have switched it several times now, so I'm not sure what it will end up as. I guess the only thing that makes me hesitate to give it five stars is that it wasn't beautifully written. It was well written, but I didn't find there were many of those knock you down becasue it's so beautiful kind of passages. And a lot of my five star books have that kind of writing. But the story itself and the characters had their beautiful moments.

( )
  klburnside | Aug 11, 2015 |
Enjoyed the story which I listened to on CD. But I didn't like any of the characters except for Florence. Laura was too meek; her husband was a shit to buy a farm without mentioning anything about it to his wife. ( )
  benismydog | May 7, 2015 |
First, the pros: this is a quick, engaging read. The story is a flashback, so the reader is aware from the outset that the unfolding events are leading up to the demise of Pappy, who as it turns out is a thoroughly obnoxious person whose loss is mourned by none. Time and place are beautifully evoked. Racism, hypocrisy, moral indifference, adultery, assault, murder unfold. But--the characters felt forced and flat to me. The "innocent" victim is too idealized and the villain is too loathsome. Likewise, the betrayed husband is a model of benevolent self-absorption while his bright, hard working wife toils in subjugation--who can blame her for straying? The message of the book on a certain level seems to be that through patricide comes self-redemption. Murky indeed. ( )
  LizHD | Mar 25, 2015 |
Perhaps I benefit from unfamiliarity with The Help and other titles mentioned among these reviews: I detect tropes here, rather than cliches. The events of the novel centre around a cotton plantation in the Mississippi Delta, as, perhaps just for a moment, maybe forever, God looks the other way. If you've read this sort of thing before, then maybe you'll know what to expect. But even if, for you, the novel will lack the element of surprise, nevertheless I think you'll find this an excellent example of the genre.

There are big themes - man's relationship with man (black/white, male/female, father/son, landlord/tenant), and also with the land; the pity of war; the nature of love and, yes, even the meaning of good and evil.

I often sign off these reviews saying I'll read the author again; this time I think I'll reread the book - it's the best thing I've read in years. ( )
  jtck121166 | Feb 16, 2015 |
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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"
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:31 -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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Hillary Jordan is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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