Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan--A Review

I enjoyed When She Woke very much, but it didn't move me nearly as much as this novel. I got through this one in 2 days, but I feel like I will be dwelling in this story for a long time. Just when I thought I had everyone figured out, some character would find a way to surprise me. This happened again and again--always something that I take as a signal of good writing. The story has a nice build in part one, but it really grows into itself once Jamie and Ronsel return to Mudbound with their war scars. Their internal struggles end up perfectly guiding us into the situation that allows the book's other concerns to become realized. Jordan does a great job of reminding readers that although the story reads like it is set in the 19th century, it is actually happening just after WWII. That was roughly sixty years ago, which really gives the novel some impact when you think about how little time sixty years is. It's the same feeling that I get when I'm reminded of Civil Rights movements from the 60s. How can all of that still be so recent? How can I live in a world where people like Pappy might be a vivid memory in the lives of my generation's parents? The racism of the rural Mississippi setting flows with such a passion that it is almost impossible to believe this wasn't something from former centuries. However, as much as I want to not believe the viability of this story, I know that it could have happened. People are capable of so much, and that can be channeled into positive and negative activities that in both cases are capable of leaving me stunned. The issues of Mudbound are ones that are still present today, although they have taken new forms and shapes in which they can torment. Jordan has written a compelling and important novel, and I am happy to have it tucked away in my mind.


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