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Sing, Unburied, Sing

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4.07  ·  Rating details ·  47,981 Ratings  ·  6,908 Reviews
An 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
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Hardcover, 285 pages
Published September 5th 2017 by Scribner (first published September 2017)
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  • Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
    Sing, Unburied, Sing
    by
    Release date: May 08, 2018
    WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD

    Rich with Jesmyn Ward’s distinctive, lyrical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing brings the archetypal road novel into rur
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    Format: Print book

    Giveaway ends in: a

    Availability: 10 copies available, 13280 people requesting

    Giveaway dates: Jul 12 - Aug 11, 2018

    Countries available: US

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    Popular Answered Questions
    Sonia It refers to the ghosts the children are able to hear and see as birds on the trees, singing their song of grief, the spirits of those who died due to…moreIt refers to the ghosts the children are able to hear and see as birds on the trees, singing their song of grief, the spirits of those who died due to a violent act, those (mostly black people) who were killed, or hurt, abused, mistreated and left unburied, without justice.(less)
    This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
    Heather Nicole I thought it was Given talking to Richie telling him that Mam was not his mother because Richie was saying, "I want you to be my mama."

    Community Reviews

    (showing 1-30)
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    Emily May
    Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
    Recommended to Emily May by: karen
    "I washed my hands every day, Jojo. But that damn blood ain't never come out."

    Such a stunning book.

    Sing, Unburied, Sing captivated me almost instantly. THIS is how character-driven family dramas should be, and there's nothing quite like a nice bit of dysfunctional family drama to keep me turning pages. But I don't want to diminish the strength of this novel. It is a character study of a contemporary African-American family in Mississippi, but it is also a darkly beautiful story about ghosts. I
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    Debbie
    2 stars--blame it on the ghosts

    It was the ghosts, folks. It was the ghosts that made me do it. They made me change my mind and go with 2 stars instead of my original 3. It’s just that they were such a big part of this book. If they had been smaller and kept their mouths shut, I would be handing you 3 stars. I wanted to be closer in stars to my gushing friends, but that just didn’t happen. I didn’t like this book, period. And of course, I have a Complaint Board to prove it.

    I did like a few thing
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    Roxane
    Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
    Beautifully written. So many layers. I don't know that there is another writer who captures the complexities of the south and the legacies of racism as well as Ward. This is a brilliant novel. But also, I did want the characters and the overall narrative to be more fully developed, or perhaps more multi-dimensional. An absolute must-read, regardless.
    karen
    Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: free-from-work
    oooh, goodreads choice awards semifinalist for best fiction! what will happen?

    Sometimes, the world don’t give you what you need, no matter how hard you look. Sometimes, it withholds.

    so, i’ve been meaning to review this for a couple of weeks now, and it’s a real challenge, because there is no universe in which i feel qualified to convey how damn good this book is. up there it’s compared to morrison and faulkner, the odyssey and the old testament, and that’s probably true, but i’m no authority - i
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    Navidad Thelamour
    Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing is true Southern Gothicism at its finest. It is a novel that I’ve been waiting a very long time to read, and I mean that both literally and figuratively. There is so much within these pages—so much angst, so much wonder and so much sorrow—that I am still grappling with it even now. And that’s a wonderful thing, the best feeling and the most lasting impression a writer can ever bestow on their reader.

    I read, before reading this novel, that Jesmyn Ward had recent
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    Paromjit
    Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
    This is a profoundly moving novel that tears your heart apart from the hugely gifted Jesmyn Ward. It is Southern Gothic at its most impressive, set in the burning heat of the Mississippi Gulf coast. It speaks of neglectful parents, ill equipped to bring up their mixed race children. The black Leonie is a drug addict and troubled woman, moving in and out of 13 year old JoJo and his toddler sister, Kayla's lives as they reside with their beloved grandparents, Mam and Pop, who provide safety, secur ...more
    Elyse
    May 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
    I listened to the audiobook of "Salvage the Bones", a couple of months ago. I was so engrossed, it was almost hard to distinguish one talent from the other: the narrators voice or the authors writing. Jesmyn Ward was a new author to me.
    I remember I cringed at times - and thought the language was beautiful.

    NO SPOILERS
    .....many other reviews came before me - excellent ones describing the plot and sharing about the characters. I read Michael's review which had me running to find this book on Net
    ...more
    Hannah Greendale
    Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.



    Heartbreak prevails, the past materializes in haunting forms, and Jesmyn Ward's prose sings in this brutal coming-of-age set in Mississippi.
    Fran
    Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
    Adult responsibility should not consume the life of a thirteen year old. Jojo's family lives in poverty along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Once Jojo had a mama (Leonie) who attended to him and watched TV with him. He stopped calling her mama after she started snorting crushed pills. His father, Michael, is jailed in Parchman farm, The Mississippi State Penitentiary.

    Jojo has a dual role as surrogate parent to toddler sister Kayla and as future head of household. He is asked to help grandfather
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    Angela M

    I almost always read just before going to sleep, and occasionally I wake up thinking about the characters, feeling like I have to get back to the book because I just have to know what's going to happen to them . This is what happened with this story. To me that's so telling about how Jesmyn Ward creates characters that are so real that you worry about them as if they were people you know, children that you want to be safe. That's just one of the strengths of her writing - the intimacy that we as
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    Larry H
    Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing


    Profound, poetic, and at times painful to read, Jesmyn Ward's Sing, Unburied, Sing is searing, truly a soaring literary achievement that I won't stop thinking about anytime soon.

    Jojo is 13 years old, on the cusp of manhood but in some ways still very much a child, longing for the security and comfort of an easier time in his life. He and his younger sister Kayla (short for Michaela) have essentially been raised by their grandparents, since their mother Leonie is often absent, either physically
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    Susanne Strong
    Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
    4 Stars.

    Beautiful, Lyrical and Poetic. Haunting and completely Heart-Wrenching. And quite honestly, a book that ripped me apart.


    “Sing Unburied Sing” is a character driven novel about a poverty stricken family living in Mississippi, where race discrimination runs rampant. Jojo is a thirteen year old biracial boy who has taken care of his three year old sister Kayla, since her birth, even though live with their Mam and Pop. Mam has shown Jojo what love and kindness are, while Pop has taught Jojo
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    Candi
    3.5 stars

    Well, this was certainly an intense, beautifully written novel. I have to admit I went into this with some very high expectations, but also with a bit of reluctance. I have seen much praise lavished on this book, and deservedly so despite my lower ranking compared with many of my trusted and much-respected Goodreads friends. I also had prior knowledge of a fairly large dose of magical realism which can sometimes muddy my enjoyment of a book. However, I took the plunge, grabbed a copy, a
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    Debra
    Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
    5 stars doesn't feel like enough.

    How to describe a book that is both heartbreaking, sad, raw and yet hopeful all at the same time? That really is the question. I'll start by saying that I found Ward's writing to be haunting, beautiful and poetic. I loved the imagery she provoked. I felt like I was on the farm with the family and then in the car on the journey to pick up Michael at the Penitentiary. I was right there in the barn when the goat was being slaughtered and also there when the police
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    Lindsay - Traveling Sister
    2.5 stars. This book simply wasn’t a good fit for me.

    Magical realism and fantasy are not themes that I connect with or generally enjoy reading. I hadn’t realized those aspects were such a large part of this story and I found them confusing and highly distracting. I think this came down to me not being the target market for this book.

    There were some unforgettable characters within this tragic and unsettling story. Pre-teenaged Jojo stole my heart as he took on the parental role to his toddler si
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    PorshaJo
    Rating 4.5

    What a powerful, beautiful, heartbreaking story that details love, hate, sadness, death, drugs, poverty, and racism. There is so much packed into this one and my thoughts are still with these characters. I thought this was a perfect example of Southern Gothic literature. Defined as follows:

    Southern Gothic literature include deeply flawed, disturbing or eccentric characters who may or may not dabble in hoodoo, ambivalent gender roles, decayed or derelict settings, grotesque situations,
    ...more
    Diane S ☔
    Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
    4.5 If you have read this author before, you pretty much know to expect a grittiness, a no holds barred reality, and that is exactly what happens in this novel. Poverty, racism, a belief in the other world to make things bearable, healing with herbs and incantations, drugs, and in this book spirits, ghosts. Mam and Pop are amazing characters who provide love and support to their two mixed race grandchildren, JoJo and Kayla. The children's parents Leone and Michael, both hooked on drugs, Michael ...more
    Karen
    Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
    I would give this book a 4.5 rating.
    Beautifully written, haunting, very sad. In this story we have biracial children being taken care of by the grandparents, a drug addicted mother, their father in prison, a grandmother who is dying, and a loving grandfather. Oh, and we also have ghosts, yes, quite a few ghosts.
    Jojo one of a few different narrators of this book is just bogged down with the responsibility of his little sister Kayla..he is the only constant for her, he and his grandfather really p
    ...more
    Liz
    Aug 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: netgalley
    I've had Salvage The Bones on my TBR list for ages and somehow have never gotten to it. So, I was pleased to get an advance copy of Sing, Unburied, Sing and finally get to read something by Jesamyn Ward. Wow, she can write! Her descriptions take you right to the time and place. It's like the characters are real people, they are that three dimensional. It's a very sad book. A thirteen year old biracial boy is forced to grow up before his time. And unfortunately, it's a story that takes place all ...more
    Brenda - Traveling Sister
    Traveling Sister Group Read with Norma, Lindsay, Susanne and JanB.

    Sing, Unburied, Sing was a Traveling Sister Group read and we had some mixed feelings on this one and it brought out a lot of different emotions from us. We had some interesting group discussions with this one. Some of us really connected to the story on a very emotional level and some of us could not connect at all to the story. For me, I struggled with connecting with the story.

    Jesmyn Ward takes on some sad and ugly truths here
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    Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
    This story is told from several different viewpoints but the most resounding voice was a young boy named Jojo. Jojo lives with his Mam and Pop and younger sister Kayla. His mom Leonie pops in and out of the house when she isn't drugged out of her mind. Jojo looks at life through an old man's eyes even though he hasn't even reached puberty. (Not literally for you trolls)..but this kid has seen more than most of us even have nightmares about.
    His father is about to be released from the state penit
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    Erin
    I don't know if I even feel up to the task of writing a review for this amazing novel. I started this one yesterday and I could not put this book down.

    Sing Unburied Sing is stunning, gripping, haunting, beautifully written, compelling and filled with complex characters. I'm usually put off by magical realism in books but I think it only added to the poetic and searing storytelling.

    Highly Recommended!


    Read for the African-American Historical Fiction Bookclub.

    2018 Badass Books Challenge: A book b
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    Robin
    Magical realism collides with southern gothic reality

    There's been a hum of excitement on Goodreads regarding this book, which has won a throng of awards. Too impatient to wait for my pathetic lil french/english local library to get it - I just bought my own copy.

    High expectations are dangerous, but not for me, in this particular case. Jesmyn Ward delivers in this book a raw, impossibly real cast of characters, with a story that is simple (junkie mom packs her kids in the car to pick up loser dad
    ...more
    Carol
    OH BOY, what to say - Emotional....Sad....Disheartening....Infuriating....AND a Great Read!

    SING UNBURIED SING is a multi-layered, beautifully written story about a dysfunctional family who live on a farm near the Gulf of Mississippi.

    THE CHARACTERS are very well-defined and unforgettable....like the self-absorbed drug addicted Leonie who "ain't got the mothering instinct"....like Michael the father....who "ain't" much better....undependable....even when he's not in prison.

    POOR MAM, she's bedridde

    ...more
    Esil
    Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: netgalley
    Relentlessly sad and beautifully written. Sing, Unburied, Sing is about the evil that festers from deep seated poverty and racism. It's also about the small pockets of good and sanity people manage to build in horribly adverse circumstances. Jojo and Kayla live with their mother and grandparents in Mississippi. Their mother Leonie is black and their father Michael is white. Their parents have no idea how to be parents, and thankfully their mother's parents do. Leonie and Jojo are haunted by ghos ...more
    Norma * Traveling Sister
    4.5 stars!

    SING, UNBURIED, SING by JESMYN WARD is a haunting, sad, heartfelt, and an absolutely exceptional novel that had me totally engaged, entertained, and interested throughout this entire book. Although, this book was so infuriating to read at times because of its heavy subject matter it was also so well-written with such beautiful prose that this book was extremely hard for me to put down.

    JESMYN WARD delivers a beautifully written multi-layered story here with absolutely wonderful charac
    ...more
    Sam
    Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
    Sometimes, the world don't give you what you need, no matter how hard you look. Sometimes, it withholds.

    There are many novels I enjoy, love, praise, wax rhapsodically about. But fewer works of fiction do I find to be important, books for our time now, getting into issues and ideas and peoples and places underrepresented or not represented well and bringing enlightenment or at least understanding as well as entertainment. For the second straight time, I found Jesmyn Ward's novel to be incredibl
    ...more
    Zoeytron
    Copy furnished by Net Galley for the price of a review.

    Beautiful words tell a sad story. Restless spirits, unhappy lives, pure love, and hope. There are those who can see, and those who cannot. The ways in which we differ, and yet end up being all the same. Fixing things to make up for what cannot be repaired. A haunting cadence that sings the song of life. This one is something special.
    Simon
    Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    I don’t think I can put into words how much I loved this book and why I loved it so much. It’s one of those kind of books. It just got into my psyche. Read it. More on my channel and blog soon.
    Michael
    This story examines the role of family in sustaining the struggles and tragedies associated with poverty and racial injustice in the rural South, the Gulf Coast Mississippi in particular. The black partriarch of this particular family, River, maintains his integrity and scrapes by with gardening and raising pigs and goats. Unfortunately, his beloved wife is dying of cancer, and his daughter, Leonie, who has been staying with them with her children by a white father now in prison, is proving hers ...more
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    2,700 followers
    Jesmyn Ward is the author of Where the Line Bleeds, Salvage the Bones, and Men We Reaped. She is a former Stegner Fellow (Stanford University) and Grisham Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi. She is an associate professor of Creative Writing at Tulane University.

    Her work has appeared in BOMB, A Public Space and The Oxford American.
    More about Jesmyn Ward
    “Sorrow is food swallowed too quickly, caught in the throat, making it nearly impossible to breathe.” 39 likes
    “Sometimes the world don’t give you what you need, no matter how hard you look. Sometimes it withholds.” 30 likes
    More quotes…