“I joined the whole slew of people who are reading Mudbound this month and, like them, I was impressed.
Quick recap (because you are probably recapped out by this point): 1930's in the Mississippi Delta. White family Henry and Laura McAllan leave the comforts of Memphis with their two young daughters and Ole Man McAllan to grow cotton on their own land. Black family Hap and Florence Jackson are their tenants with their twin tween boys and young daughter. Jamie McAllan and Ronsel Jackson both return from the war to their families. Both scarred and trying to heal but soon realize that their budding friendship ignites racial hatred.
Told from six alternating points of view, this book was wonderfully written. The story pulled me in and the writing kept me reading for hours on end that felt like mere minutes. The characters had voices that rang true for their time, location, and station in life which made the story flow so smoothly. I am not saying I agreed with everything they did or said, but I could see where that would have been an authentic reaction.
I was warned by Anita that this book was graphic. However, I didn't find it violently graphic. Most of the violence was off-scene but what was graphic was the sheer hatred that some of the characters had for others. It is a book about racism set in a highly segregated part of the county at a time when the Klan was still around. The N word was thrown around freely. I can be a pretty squeemish person depending on what the violence depicts and while it made me sick that people have actually treated others that way - and much worse - the descriptions themselves weren't bad.
Without giving anything away, I agree with Nicole D about the ending. I thought it was the one part of the book that didn't ring as true and I felt like the actions didn't not go nearly as far as a similar situation in reality. I did like the little foreshadowing at the end about how Ronsel and Jamie's lives progressed but felt Laura's wrap up was a bit cliche.
Overall, a great book that touches on one of the uglier aspects of American history but reminds us how far we have come as a society and the great cost it has taken to get here.”
“The racism in this book made me uncomfortable. Jordan wasn't timid in her portrayal of it. I found myself relieved that I hadn't lived in a time and place where racism was so overt. Then I started thinking about the racism of today. The kind where people hide it, or don't even realize they are racist. Now I'm not sure which is worse ... at least the overt racism was honest, if harsh. I do feel hopeful that mostly we are breeding racism out of our children. At least we seem to be in Northern California, in 2013.
This novel was well thought out, well written, and fast-paced. The varying points of view allowed the reader get into a lot of different heads, and that really contributed to the success of the book for me. I loved the POV of a black solider in Nazi Germany.
SPOILERISH IF YOU HAVEN'T READ IT YET
The only aspect where I found Jordan held back a little was in the "Sawmill" scene. After everything these characters said and did in this book, and what we know of the South in that time, that outcome wasn't in line with all that had come before it. Either Jordan got talked out of what she planned, or she couldn't bear to see it through. Maybe that was always her plan, but it seemed a bit weak to me, so my rating reflects that.
A great book. Great for discussion and self-examination. ”
“This book opens with the digging of a grave by the family of Pappy who are not all sad to see this man go. The rest of the story is told in alternating chapters by several of the main characters of the book to the point leading up to this death. You hear each of their voices beautifully rendered but you never hear Pappy's side; but then maybe that's a blessing.
The time and place are mostly set in the late 1940s in the Mississippi Delta. The story tells how Henry and Laura meet, marry, and end up moving from city to country life - a big hardship for Laura. Laura was nearly a spinster when she met Henry and well-loved by her family, which she had to leave behind when Henry bought the farm they finally named Mudbound for reasons that were apparent.
The main event that moved the story forward with such tension was the return of two WWII soldiers, Jamie who was a pilot and Henry's much younger brother and Ronsel, a black tank sergeant who served under Patton and saw a whole different world for blacks in Europe. Ronsel is the oldest son of Hap and Florence who work Henry's farm. Both Ronsel and Jamie share the pain and nightmares of their time in the war. Their relationship is not accepted by the people of the area.
The tension and the bigotry from that point on is painful to read, especially for this northerner.
A wonderful book, this one will stay with me for a long time. I've already passed it on to another of my reading friends.”
“Mudbound is the story of two families, The MacAllen’s and the Johnson’s and the events of one year that changes all their lives.
Laura MacAllen is a city girl, struggling to adapt to farm life in the Mississippi Delta. She lives with her husband Henry, their two children and Henry’s mean and hateful Pappy in a small house without electricity or indoor plumbing. Florence and Hal Johnson are black tenant sharecroppers on the MacAllen farm and Florence also helps Laura in the house. Henry’s brother Jamie and the Johnson’s son Roncel return home from the war. Jamie has acquired a drinking problem to deal with his nightmares of the war; Roncel returns a war hero but in Mississippi 1946 he is no more than a “boy”. Having traveled the world and seen more than their shares of horrors the two men don’t feel compelled to live by the rules of the Jim Crow South and strike up a forbidden friendship.
The story is told from the perspective of the six main characters, we never hear Pappy’s point of view but he is a major presence throughout the book. Each chapter is told from a different viewpoint of the same series of events. The author gives each of the characters a clear and believable voice. As the story develops the tension mounts and it becomes clear that we are on a collision course with tragedy.
This book drew me in from the start and I raced through it, a feeling of dread becoming more intense as the end draws near. It’s hard to say you love a book that tackles such a difficult subject, but I did love it. It was a beautifully written and powerful read, although very graphic in some parts. It is a very rewarding read in the end, and one I recommend very highly.
“In 1946, Laura McAllan is raising her children on her husband's Mississippi Delta farm. In the midst of the family's struggles, two young men return from the war to work the land. Jamie McAllan, Laura's brother-in-law, is charming, handsome, and haunted by his memories of combat. Ronsel Jackson, eldest son of the black sharecroppers who live on the McAllan farm, has come home with the shine of a war hero. But he is still considered less than a man in the Jim Crow South. The ending is a bit predictable and the novel is dreary.”Bev wrote this review Thursday, August 22, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Powerful, powerful, powerful.”Cheryl C wrote this review Thursday, July 18, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Two GIs, one black, one white return to their families on farms in the still segregated south. Their military service is their bond, but their southern world does not approve of their friendship. The black family are sharecroppers on the white family's land. Family dynamics, southern prejudices, love, hate, .... All these play a role in a good book.”Bobbi wrote this review Sunday, July 7, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Racism in the Mississippi Delta in the late 1940's. Strong narrative story line that pulls the reader along. Chapters are told from the point of view of different characters. The author built the novel around the life of her grandmother on a farm in Arkansas and it rings true.”Susan M wrote this review Wednesday, June 26, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Fabulous! Jordan does a great job with the characters she throws us into. Couldn't put it down! ”Stephanie Laurino wrote this review Thursday, June 20, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No