This month's choice for the Hatchet Coffee Book Club is the National Book Award winner-Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. We'd decided as a group that we wanted to read this book back when it was only available in hardcover. However, due to the dark nature of the story, we chose to wait until there was more sunshine in the day before we jumped into Jesmyn Ward's tragic family tale.
Don't know what the book is about? Here's what the publisher says:
Jojo is thirteen years old and trying to understand what it means to be a man. He doesn’t lack in fathers to study, chief among them his Black grandfather, Pop. But there are other men who complicate his understanding: his absent White father, Michael, who is being released from prison; his absent White grandfather, Big Joseph, who won’t acknowledge his existence; and the memories of his dead uncle, Given, who died as a teenager.
His mother, Leonie, is an inconsistent presence in his and his toddler sister’s lives. She is an imperfect mother in constant conflict with herself and those around her. She is Black and her children’s father is White. She wants to be a better mother but can’t put her children above her own needs, especially her drug use. Simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she’s high, Leonie is embattled in ways that reflect the brutal reality of her circumstances.
When the children’s father is released from prison, Leonie packs her kids and a friend into her car and drives north to the heart of Mississippi and Parchman Farm, the State Penitentiary. At Parchman, there is another thirteen-year-old boy, the ghost of a dead inmate who carries all of the ugly history of the South with him in his wandering. He too has something to teach Jojo about fathers and sons, about legacies, about violence, about love.
You can get your copy of the book from the store with a 15% discount until the end of the month. If you'd like to purchase online, we have the following the formats available:
We'll meet at the Hatchet Coffee lounge on June 28th at 7:30pm. We'll have free wine and snacks for book club members to share. Bring a friend and come discuss the book with us, even if you weren't able to completely finish it or if you didn't like it. You can see the Facebook event & RSVP here.
Relevant Reviews & Interviews
New York Times Review--U.S. Poet Laureate, Tracey K. Smith, Reviews Jesmyn Ward's Sing, Unburied, Sing
Washington Post Review--Jesmyn Ward’s powerful new novel, ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing’
The Atlantic Review--Jesmyn Ward's Eerie, Powerful Unearthing of History
NPR Fresh Air Interview--For Jesmyn Ward, Writing Means Telling The 'Truth About The Place That I Live In'
PBS News Hour Interview--Jesmyn Ward Answers Your Questions About 'Sing, Unburied, Sing'
Hatchet Coffee Lounge