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.”
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!