Monday, April 9, 2012

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

Hillary Jordan

The Good Spirits book club I'm a member of chose this for our April read based on a glowing recommendation from one of our favorite and trusted local librarians.  We haven't met yet to talk about it but I've chatted with a few from our group and it seems like a unanimous winner.

Synopsis (from Jordan's website):

In the winter of 1946, Henry McAllen moves his city-bred wife, Laura, from their comfortable home in Memphis to a remote cotton farm in the Mississippi Delta — a place she finds both foreign and frightening. While Henry works the land he loves, Laura struggles to raise their two young children in a rude shack with no indoor plumbing or electricity, under the eye of her hateful, racist father-in-law. When it rains, the waters rise up and swallow the bridge to town, stranding the family in a sea of mud.

As the McAllans are being tested in every way, two celebrated soldiers of World War II return home to the Delta. Jamie McAllan is everything his older brother Henry is not: charming, handsome, and sensitive to Laura’s plight, but also haunted by his memories of combat. Ronsel Jackson, eldest son of the black tenant farmers who live on the McAllan farm, comes home from fighting the Nazis with the shine of a war hero, only to face far more personal — and dangerous — battles against the ingrained bigotry of his own countrymen. It is the unlikely friendship of these two brothers-in-arms, and the passions they arouse in others, that drive this powerful debut novel.

Mudbound is told in riveting personal narratives by the individual members of the McAllan and Jackson families. As they strive for love and honor in a brutal time and place, they become players in a tragedy on the grandest scale and find redemption where they least expect it.

I enjoyed the changing point-of-view chapters, which allowed me get to know all the characters.  The female characters were especially poignant and had a much richer story to tell.  I don't want to give away any of the amazing twists Jordan's story holds so if you haven't read this book-hop to it.  

Two quotes:


"I was bewitched by both of them, and by the beauty of ordinary life, which went on despite the war and seemed all the more precious for it.  When I wasn't changing diapers and weeding my victory garden, I was rolling bandages and sewing for the Red Cross.  My sisters, cousins and I organized drives for scrap metal and for silk and nylon stockings, which the army turned into powder bags.  It was a frightening and sorrowful time, but it was also exhilarating.  For the first time in our lives, we had a purpose greater than ourselves."  (50)

and from Florence~

"First time I laid eyes on Laura McAllen she was out of her head with mama worry.  When that mama worry takes ahold of a woman you can't expect no sense from her.  she'll do or say anything at all and you just better hope you ain't in her way.  That's the Lord's doing right there.  He made mothers to be like that on account of children need protecting and the men ain't around to do it most of the time." (80)

Take a chance and read this tale~

Other reviews:

Donna Jean at The Compulsive Reader

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