Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
Published by Algonquin Books
The year is 1946, and city girl Laura is trying to deal with the fact that her husband Henry has decided to move their family to a farm on the Mississippi Delta. The Jim Crow South is like nothing Laura has ever experienced, and every day brings something new for her to adjust to. The war’s ending brings two men to help with the farm – Henry’s younger brother Jamie, and Ronsel, the eldest son of the black sharecroppers who live on the farm. Ronsel was a hero in the war, but unfortunately back in Mississippi he is seen as less than a man due to the color of his skin. These two men somehow form a friendship, and this friendship sets the stage for the novel’s shattering conclusion.
I wanted to read Mudbound because I thought When She Woke was pretty genius and while I was reading that book, there was something about Jordan’s writing style that I was really drawn to. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I was hoping the same quality would show up in Mudbound and it definitely did. Jordan’s fantastic writing and story-telling ability drew me into this novel from the first page, and I had extreme difficulty putting it down for any stretch of time.
I have to say, though, that although I loved this book it shattered me. I became so invested in these characters that the ending just about killed me. That’s the thing about my experiences with this author so far – she writes these incredibly real characters that become a part of you as you’re reading about them. So when THINGS happen you feel them so very strongly. That’s another thing about this book that worked so well – Jordan is so skilled at bringing the reader in, at giving little hints and clues that things are not going to turn out well so you know to expect something throughout the whole novel. She creates this foreboding atmosphere throughout the entire book, but when it’s finally over, what happened is nothing like what you were anticipating. It’s crazy good writing at its best.
There’s nothing else for me to say except read Mudbound. I absolutely loved it.