Sing Unburied Sing

23rd November 2017

Sing Unburied Sing - Jesmyn Ward

If you love getting lost in a dark story, don’t mind a few fractured family relationships, can get past the visceral opening chapter and get swept along a physical and metaphorical roadtrip, look no further: this book will captivate you. National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward perfectly and heartbreakingly portrays a family unit both expanding and collapsing in on itself. Leonie and Michael, the mixed-race parents of 13 year old Jojo and toddler Kayla, are anything but model parents. Between Leonie’s drug addiction and Michael’s release from prison, we see and feel the effects of brutal neglect. The difference between the lack of parental affection and the moments of sibling tenderness, combined with the endearing care of the ageing and ailing grandparents, creates a delicate and tenuous balance. This is a family barely holding it together. Set in the heart of rural Mississippi, Ward’s description of landscape creates another character in the place itself. And then there are the chapters written by ghosts: characters with a past but no future, struggling with a grip on the present. But that’s all the characters, really, and we come to see that the “unburied” are not only the departed souls with nowhere to rest, but the ghosts we carry inside us.

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