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Publisher's Summary

The searing and profound odyssey of a Southern family - by National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward.

In Jesmyn Ward's first novel since her National Book Award winner, Salvage the Bones, she returns to Mississippi and the grand themes of her earlier work. Confronting the realities of life in the rural South, Ward gives us an epochal story, a road novel through Mississippi's past and present that explores the bonds of family as tested by racism and poverty. Told in Ward's rich, lyrical language, this majestic novel is impossible to ignore.

For Pop and Mam; their daughter, Leonie; and her kids, Jojo and Kayla, life is hard. Mam has cancer, Pop is preoccupied by working their small parcel of land, Leonie has a meth problem, and Jojo and Kayla seek love from their grandparents rather than their absent mother. Their lives are further complicated when Leonie gets the call from the white father of her children that he's up for parole. She quickly gathers her kids, recruits a friend for the ride, and embarks on the journey north to the Delta to collect Michael at Parchman Farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary. But no journey for a woman like Leonie through this state is without danger, and many things go wrong, sometimes dramatically.

If the trip to Parchman is rocky, the return is worse, and arriving at home doesn't bring Leonie and her family the peace they seek. Instead two battles ensue: one with Mississippi's present and another with its horrific past.

Raw, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful, Jesmyn Ward's novel grapples with the ugly truths at the heart of our national story, paying tribute to Faulkner and Morrison, The Odyssey, and the Old Testament, all while showcasing the major talents of this singular American voice.

©2017 Jesmyn Ward (P)2017 Simon & Schuster Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Obnoxiously abstract

It was all I could do to get through it. The nonstop abstract descriptions are never ended. And there's actually no plot. Hated it!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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One fatal flaw

Rolling Rs and trilling Ing endings does not make one a great and dramatic reader. Retina Wesley's performance took away from this audio. Otherwise I would have given it an all over four stars.

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Interesting story with mostly good performances

I enjoyed the story and liked that it was told from different perspectives. The different takes on what was happening between JoJo and Leoni were thought provoking. I did not care for the performance for Leoni, though. The way the narrator were out her words was irritating. JoJo and Richie had great performances, though.

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Standing Ovation

Excellent story and performance! Highly recommend. I chuckled, cried and shook my head. Beautifully written.

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Very good read, but way too short

The story itself was wonderful, but it seems like it was too short and I still have many questions. Hopefully there will be a sequel to this book.

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Wow! The performance of the men!

The performance of the male voices is outstanding! The female did very well, too, but I am blown away by the reading of the character Jo Jo. And as always, Jesmyn Ward's storytelling is impeccable: lyrical and lovely.

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Fabulous

Pure Perfection. Loved everything about this book. Beautifully written. Gets to your heart almost immediately.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Very somber read

Jesmyn crafts a beautifully poetic story that puts you directly in her characters world. Although the only characters I was drawn to were Ma, and Pa. the story was intricate and was layered with complex issues which affected all the characters differently. I did find some parts of the story boring with really no forward momentum and I don't if that was because certain dialogue or certain events that unfolded. The biggest thing for me was the lack of growth/depth from Jojo. At no point in the story does it feel like he learns or discovers anything tangible; I just feel like he was uninteresting as a main. Overall the story was good.


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