Friday, August 22, 2008

Mudbound - Hillary Jordan

“What we can’t speak, we say in silence.” (excerpt p. 315)

“That’s what it is to love someone: to give whatever you can while taking what you must.” (excerpt p. 321)

These are two quotations I love from Hillary Jordan’s novel Mudbound. There are so many more. (Always a great indicator of a good book.)

This debut novel won the Bellwether Prize founded by Barbara Kingsolver (one of my favourite authors) which recognizes literature of social responsibility. Don’t let the words “social responsibility” scare you off. It’s a great read.

Set in the 1940s, this is a story of two families (one black, one white) whose lives intertwine as they work a Mississippi Delta farm. Mudbound is the name of the farm – and it fits. The mud, the dirt and the oppressive heat permeate their lives – as does the deep and abiding racial prejudice so many of the characters are immersed (stuck) in.

Two young men (one white, one black) return home after the war and develop a friendship – of sorts. But a black man, despite having fought for his country, is still considered and treated like a second-class citizen. Their friendship ignites existing racial tension and leads to tragedy.

As the novel came to its conclusion, I turned the pages with dread – but turn them I did. Jordan draws you into the lives of her characters, makes you care about them, feel their anger, sorrow and anguish. And their moments of joy.

It is a tale of love, lust, secrets held (to protect others, to protect oneself) and despite the tragedy that ensues, Jordan leaves the reader with hope – perhaps simply an imagined wishful one, but nevertheless, hope.

Mudbound is also a reminder of how far we have come since those times - and how very far we still have to go.


Sherry said...

...and how far we still have to go....a great quote from you -- one of my favourite authors!

VE said...

Good quotes. But a trajedy type book is such a downer. I watched the movie 'Click' the other day with the kids and I knew it had a good ending but it was such a downer getting to it. Whatever happened to good old sex, violence or funny?

She said...

You do awesome book reviews! I, too, love Barbara Kingsolver -- my favorites: Animal Dreams and Poisonwood Bible.

I'm on a 30 mission to not buy any more books as I'm overloaded at the moment (they are becoming more of decor in my home than reading material as I can't seem to get through them fast enough), but I think I'll suggest this one for our next month's book club read!

Beth said...

I'll say it again...I love your book reviews. You always make me want to go out and get the book straight away....I'll put this one on my list.

Shari/"Whiger" said...

At first I misread it as Mudblood (Harry Potter series-mudblood meant that a wizard's parents didn't have magical powers.)

I see so many black (I'm mot even sure what's politically correct anymore) people get good jobs lately. Heck, we may have a black President.

Women still have a long way to go, too, I think.

Sounds like a "must read." I'm also going to have to check out the author's other books, too, and Barbara K,. too.

Alyson said...

I'm always looking for a great book recommendation. I'll have to keep an eye out for this one. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

My mom read this and liked after she met the author at a mutual friend's barbecue (author is nice and really interesting to talk to). Mom especially liked the shifting POVs.