MUDBOUND by Hillary Jordan

Book Quote:

“‘We’re not gonna make it,’ I said.

‘We will,’ he said.

That was Henry for you: absolutely certain that whatever he wanted to happen would happen. The body would get buried before the storm hit. The weather would dry out in time to resow the cotton. Next year would be a better year. His little brother would never betray him.”

Book Review:

Reviewed by Bonnie Brody (AUG 09, 2009)

“Mudbound” is the very unaffectionate name that Laura and her children give to her husband, Henry’s, Mississippi cotton farm. Mudbound is without running water, electricity and, as the name implies, muddy and dirty. For a good part of the year it is inaccessible to any town because the huge quantity of rain washes out the only bridge that links Mudbound to civilization.

The novel takes place in Mississippi shortly after the ending of World War II. It is a Mississippi that would shudder in its shoes if it knew that Martin Luther King and a Civil Rights Movement were only 15 years down the road. It is a Mississippi of segregation, racism and hatred, even for black WW II heroes returning from their time overseas.

The chapters are told from the voices of different characters. There is Laura, at first fearful that she will be a spinster, but then finding love of a sort with Henry who marries her and takes her far from her family so that he can fulfill his dream of being a farmer. Henry’s voice is that of a man trying to do the right thing under difficult economic and social conditions. Florence is a midwife and Laura’s housekeeper, a black woman wise in the ways of the world and understanding that there is a wall too tall between blacks and whites for her to traverse. Hap is Florence’s husband. He is working as hard as he can to try and make it as a tenant farmer on Henry’s farm. It is an uphill battle all the way with two steps backward for every step forward.

Then there are Jamie and Ronsell. Both are war heroes but one is black and the other is white. Jamie is Henry’s brother, many years his junior. Prior to the war, Jamie was light-hearted and easy-going. However, he brings demons back with him from his war experiences. Ronsell, too, is a war hero, having served in a black brigade under General Patton. He is Florence and Hap’s son. He, too, carries demons from the war. Both likely have cases of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Ronsell and Jamie become friends and this stirs up a pot best left alone.

In the background without his own voice in the story is Pappy, a mean-spirited, nasty and racist man – – Henry’s father. He is even cruel to his own granddaughter. There is not likely a person on earth that Pappy has a nice word for except occasionally Jamie.

This story beautifully and tragically unfolds through the different voices. Mudbound is a book that will not soon be forgotten. It is horrible in its tragedy and beautiful in its telling.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-5from 471 readers
PUBLISHER: Algonquin Books (March 17, 2009)
REVIEWER: Bonnie Brody
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Hillary Jordan
EXTRAS: Reading Guide and Excerpt
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Read our review of:

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August 9, 2009 В· Judi Clark В· No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  В· Posted in: Bellwether, Class - Race - Gender, Contemporary, Debut Novel, Family Matters, Literary, US South

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