Author: Hillary Jordon
Publisher:Algonquin Books of Chappel Hill
Rating:4.5 out of 5
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from the back cover:
In Jordan's prize-winning debut, prejudice takes many forms, both subtle and brutal. It is 1946, and city-bred Laura McAllan is trying to raise her children on her husband's Mississippi Delta farm—a place she finds foreign and frightening. 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 everything her husband is not—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 no matter his bravery in defense of his country, he is still considered less than a man in the Jim Crow South. It is the unlikely friendship of these brothers-in-arms that drives this powerful novel to its inexorable conclusion.
I wanted to read "When she woke " but couldn't find that one so ended up getting this book by the same author...Laura's life is always full of surprises ,when she had almost given up for a married life, Henry happens., with her share of happiness with two kids Amanda and Isabella she gets her next shot of surprise when her husband Henry decides on farming much to her dismay the expected house was never found forcing her into a life in shacks that she readily calls as mudbound...Her next set of troubled surprise appears in the form of her father -in law Pappy he mostly stays drunk being miserable and a contagious at that, Jamie Henry's younger brother also joins him at their farm house..Though Laura is taken by Jamie's strength but soon faces the true self that Jamie is...We are also introduced to a similar lady lead in the form of Florence who heads the family of Jacksons.,their difference being the skin tone Jacksons are black while McAllan are white.. Ronsel son of Florence is a WWII war hero who served in 761st tank battalion..
Jamie and Ronsel with the similar background can understand each other, but the racism stop from intermingling...The story is set in 1940s Mississippi and begins with the death of Pappy , the novel unfolds as a rewind tale...Ronsel moving with the white hand in hand during the war is confused with the way his life has taken a turn back at his home town., filled with prejudice and hierarchy....His friendship with Jamie goes on well but threatened by the people ...And the climax is of course on a sad note, but well if things didn't turn out like this I am sure the otherwise realistic tale would have sounded very much fake...
Laura is a character that you would take a look on..She is not the kind of strong willed and determined protagonist the readers would admire but she is the kind of lady who with her strong sense of observation and flexibility copes up with any kind of situation which will leave you thoroughly impressed ...She sounds low at times, many times selfish, yet she is fair to her black maid Florence devoid of any racist outlook like the people in town...In spite being educated she is forced to live in shacks as her husband loses the house to a sharp bidder...She is the land lady yet not rich or better than the Florence and her family...
Another contrast was in the characters of Jamie and Ronsel, both are war heroes struggling to find a niche into normalcy...Their everyday post trauma of war and the vantage of people around them drive them nuts yet they have to cope up for the day to come...This is the kind of story that would stay with you even after you have read it... But be prepared for the bitter climax...After reading this I am much looking forward to read "When she woke"...