SHORTLISTED FOR THE WOMEN S PRIZE FOR FICTION WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD ONE OF BARACK OBAMA S BEST BOOKS OF SELECTED AS A BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE NEW STATESMAN, THE FINANCIAL TIMES, THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, TIME AND THE BBC A must Margaret Atwood A searing, urgent read Celeste Ng Staggering Marlon James Disarmingly beautiful Spectator Blazing with power, grief and tenderness Financial TimesAn intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle, Sing, Unburied, Sing examines the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power and limitations of family bonds Jojo is thirteen years old and trying to understand what it means to be a man His mother, Leonie, is in constant conflict with herself and those around her She is black and her children s father is white Embattled in ways that reflect the brutal reality of her circumstances, she wants to be a better mother, but can t put her children above her own needs, especially her drug use 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 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 loveRich with Ward s distinctive, lyrical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty first century America Well written but super silly Spirits and ghosts appearing to the characters, helping them slip through to heaven If it had just been written as a true story of the racism, leading to poverty, drug abuse and deep unhappiness it would have been outstanding To state what happens in the book would give an impression of dark, bleak hopelessness, which is not the feeling it engenders in the process of reading Ward s lyrical prose and descriptive talent transport the reader to the dusty yard, hot car, bland gas station, prison plantation and guarantees our sympathy Somehow, no matter how miserable the situation, she manages to sustain hope.The story is told through the eyes of a young boy, Jojo, and his mother, Leonie From the start, there is a haunted atmosphere of loss, an absence of someone who should be there, but that someone is different for each of them Leonie is a drug addict and neglectful mother, so that the most influential figure in Jojo s life is Pop, his grandfather Pop teaches Jojo how to work the farm and tells him about the harsh days when he was in Parchman Penitentiary Pop s sadness is both for the past and the present, as his wife is dying of cancer Meanwhile, Leonie is preparing to drive across the state to meet Michael, her lover and father of her children, when he gets out of jail And she wants to take Jojo and his little sister Kayla with her.Part road trip, part social critique, part American nightmare, this beautifully written novel makes us feel the weight of the past in a visceral sense There is an inexorable feeling of tragedy, as if we know what must happen in the end, but cannot help hoping things will turn out differently The book won America s National Book Award 2017 and was selected as Book of the Year by The New York Times amongst others I can see why. This book was quite hard going Although the characters and surroundings were beautifully described and I realise not everything in life is necessarily what we want to hear, I did find this book unremittingly depressing The treatment of the two children by their feckless mother, The grandmother dying of cancer, the constant drugtaking, and the terrible treatment of black American prisoners during that time This is about the approach to the story than the actual writing I suppose it is hard to make something like this anything other than depressing if you are going to give a true representation of the times as they were. I think I m sitting with ghosts now This is a book that will haunt me forever I hope Jojo , Kayla, Pop, Leonie Michael are ok in that universe I m shook up. This was a real surprise, beautifully crafted and incorporating a powerful relationship with the spirit world through the gift or curse of the Sight This type of tale with ghosts is very much a characteristic of Southern Gothic.Add to this an exploration of relationships between parents and children young siblings This is a novel that is just superb and highly recommended. Very different to the books I normally read Found I had to keep reading about this family Don t think I could recommend it, strange book Have not read anything else by this author. I liked the telling of the story from different points of view Like an earlier reviewer, I found the book both forceful and tender The racial nature of the Southern states is depicted most graphically..I was reminded of Yaa Gyasi s Homegoing a quite different book in many ways but equally compelling A journey through Mississippi s past and present providing a portrait of family and a story of hope and struggle narrated through the voices of 13 year old JoJo, Leonie and Richie the ghost.The parts of the story narrated by JoJo, I found the most enjoyable Initially I wasn t convinced by his voice, as he seemed wise beyond his years I like to think I know what death is I like to think it is something I could look at straight But it became clear that JoJo was an old soul having the responsibility of looking after his baby sister and mother coupled with the family gift will inevitably age your soul.Leonie the neglectful mother, poisoning everything she touches was a character throughout I kept wondering why she was the way she was She was unable to place her children s needs before her own She hates me, I say No, she loves you She don t know how to show it And her love for herself and her love for Michael well, it gets in the way It confuse her Leonie was desperate to be seen beyond her skin, and once she was she literally lost herself from the first moment I saw him walking across the grass to where I sat in the shadow of the school sign, he saw me Saw past skin the colour of unmilked coffee, eyes black, lips the colour of plums, and saw me Ward illustrated through Leonie that she was never far away from growth and never far away from decay Growing up out here in the country taught me things Taught me that after the first fat flush of life, time eats away at things it rusts machinery, it matures animals to become hairless and featherless, and it withers plants since Mama got sick, I learned pain can do that too From the afterlife, Richie is able to voice the injustice, racism and the lynching he experienced As well as hold the present to account.Additionally through the road trip, Ward highlights the present day racial profiling.If you enjoy stories about dysfunctional families this one is definitely for you Unexpectedly I wasn t left feeling sad or depressed, I almost felt at peace with its ending. I had a rave review from a friend about this book and I suppose I had preconceptions about it I hadn t realised it would be quite so abstract in places and particularly gruesome which the subject and history of racial persecution is of course Not exactly light reading however so brace yourself.