Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I was loaned this book as a follow-up to having read The Help (and after I'd recommended The Queen of Palmyra and Wench) and this is definitely a more memorable, more sickening book than the first. Told from six different points of view, some male, some female, some white, some black, but all genuine, this story of what life in the 40s in Mississippi was like.
Laura's life was one of gentle rearing - it's not clear that she has any real racial animosity, but there's a casual class/racist attitude in her - and her late (past-30!) marriage to Henry isn't one of love and passion but more of companionship. Or so she thinks until he moves her and their two daughters to a mudbound farm miles from "home": no indoor plumbing, no electricity, no telephone, and his racist, mean father living in a lean-to are all part of her new life. She becomes as friendly as one can with Florence, the black midwife whose husband sharecrops on the farm. There's also Hap, Florence's husband; Henry, madly in love with the land and filled with the certainty that because he's white and male, he's right; Ronsel, back from WWII, where even though he was a black soldier he wasn't somehow less than a man; and Jamie, Henry's younger brother, who would have done better to live an academic life but instead ends up a bomber in the War and struggling with the aftershocks of that horror. Their lives intertwine in such a way that you know that nothing good is going to happen, but the actual climax will take you by surprise.
As with the two books I'd recommended, I can see this book being recommended to others for many years; it's a story that many people would like to forget was a part of who we, as a country, were and should not be forgotten.
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