Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

Publication Date: March 2008
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill

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. 

The men and women of each family relate their versions of events and we are drawn into their lives as they become players in a tragedy on the grandest scale. As Kingsolver says of Hillary Jordan, “Her characters walked straight out of 1940s Mississippi and into the part of my brain where sympathy and anger and love reside, leaving my heart racing. They are with me still.”

My Thoughts:
I don’t know where I was or what I was doing in 2008 when this first came out because I missed the debut of this book. If I had known then what I know about it now I would have been the first to rip it off of the shelf and take it home.

What I Liked:
I enjoyed how there were different narrators telling the tale. Each of them have a great story to tell and each of them deserve to have their stories told. It wasn’t confusing at all because each character had a distinct voice. 

I loved to HATE Laura’s father-in-law. Wow, what a first class jerk

This book made me think about how far we’ve come since the 1940’s…and of how far we have yet to go. 

What I Didn’t Like:
I can’t say that the ending of this book is bad, just that there was a bit of ambiguity that annoyed me a little. The author gives you a glimpse into what may have happened.

Read an excerpt and listen to an interview with the author here

Have you read this? Do you plan on it? What did you like? Dislike? Share your thoughts, I’d love to hear them!

22 thoughts on “Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

  1. I was just wondering the same thing as Rebecca, is there some kind of closure? I probably won't pick this one up very soon. At the moment, I'm still stuck in the Reconstruction, and i'm not sure whether I can handle books that take place in the same area but in different eras…


  2. This sounds really good. The multiple narrators in a book about the American South reminds me a little of William Faulkner's \”As I Lay Dying.\” I actually think that ambiguity at the end of a book can really be a good thing sometimes as sometimes that is the way that life goes. On the other hand it can be terribly disappointing. I guess slightly disappointing describes this ending.


  3. If you pick it up I'd love to know what you think of it Brian. I wouldn't even call it slightly disappointing..more like an itsy bitsy itsy bit disappointing, lol. I don't want to turn anyone off from reading this book because it was really good!


  4. I hate ambiguous endings. It's one of my biggest book pet peeves. I feel like it's so mean on the part of the author. You (and they, presumably) spent a lot of time investing in these characters, and then to have no clear idea what happened to them? It's just not nice.But…you make this book sound really good. I'm going to think about this one.


  5. It's just not nice! Great way to put it Lindsey. Sometimes I think authors do those sorts of endings to be fancy, to be more \”literary\”. I don't need every single loose end tied up in a neat little bow, but some of them I do!


  6. I absolutely loved Jordan's book When She Woke, so I definitely want to get to her backlist at some point in time. You are making me reconsider how long I take before I actually do that though. Great review!


  7. I really loved this book. I found all the narrative voices and the story so compelling. I know what you mean about the ending being a bit ambiguous, though. It pointed us toward the future without exactly wrapping up the story.


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