6 min read ⌚
This book has not been on the best-selling lists for nothing.
It tells a fictional story about a family whose intentions are under the radar.
Who Should Read “Sing, Unburied, Sing”? And Why?
We believe that “Sing, Unburied, Sing” is best suited for the American society, but we wouldn’t deprive anyone of reading it.
The message conveyed is strong, and life-changing. Fasten your seatbelts before you proceed with the interpretation.
Jesmyn Ward Biography
Jesmyn Ward is a celebrated and award-winning American novelist born in 1977. She even obtained MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan.
She is also the author of The Fire This Time, Salvage the Bones, Men We Reaped, and Where The Line Bleeds.
Numerous people have praised Sing, Unburied, Sing for its uniqueness and style, which eventually explains why the novel was included in many best books lists for 2017.
Former U.S. President Barack Obama also showed great affection for the storyline that unfolds side by side with a family whose ideas are somehow intertwined with the Mississippi State Penitentiary.
It all starts when a 13-year old boy, in the company of his mother (Leonie), little sister and a family friend, embark on a journey to free or release Michael (the father) from Parchman – a second name for the Penitentiary Facility.
Jojo’s maternal grandfather, (Pop, River) was also imprisoned in the 40s, and at the time, he wasn’t able to take care of his wife (Mam) who was diagnosed with cancer. The novel opens up on Jojo (the main character) 13th birthday. He and Pop decide to slaughter a goat in his honor.
The same night, Michael calls his wife (Leonie) to tell her that he is being released from prison, a reason more for celebration.
Before hearing the news, they feast with a goat and a cake, bought from a store. Excited about the arrival, Leonie takes her children with her, to pick up their father from Mississippi State Penitentiary.
Leonie works in a bar, where she unusually accepts an extra shift that night, which turns out to be an excellent opportunity for her to get high with Misty. In the meantime, Misty seize this momentum, by convincing Leonie that her voyage over to the Parchman can serve a double purpose.
They believe that the timing couldn’t be more right for smuggling drugs into the offices of the lawyer who represents both Misty’s boyfriend and Michael.
The next day, Leonie voluntarily agrees to drive Michael home from Parchman and notifies his parents. Big Joseph (Michael’s father) is not too happy with this proposal and even takes things a little further by pointing a gun at Leonie.
She leaves the house and rushes to meet Misty. They pick up the meth, place the drugs in a secret compartment and head over to Mississippi State Penitentiary.
On the way over to Parchman, Kayla (Jojo’s sister) gets sick. She’s not feeling well, and Leonie tries picking up a few blackberry plants on the road to Al to alleviate her pain.
Jojo grows protective of his little sister and doesn’t trust his mother, not a bit. He fears that the treatment will only worsen her health and may even lead to disastrous consequences – such as death. When Leonie arrives at the lawyer’s house with Misty and the children, she goes in the kitchen to prepare the medicine.
Jojo warns his sister about the side-effects that may occur as a result of the irresponsible behavior and advises her to spit out the mixed ingredients, while their mom and the host take drugs.
The very next morning, Kayla’s health is deteriorated, but despite the circumstances – they insist on taking the trip over to Parchman. On the way back to Al’s house, Michael is not the only one in the car; they give a lift to a ghost named Richie, who Pop have defended in the 40s, at the time of his incarceration.
The ghost, however, explains to them that he wants to know the final resolution of the story. Riche doesn’t recall how it all ended after the prison break he and Pop have pulled in the 40s. Once River, reveals all the mysteries, the ghost can indulge in eternal rest.
There’s so many,’ Richie says. His voice is molasses slow. ‘So many of us,’ he says. ‘Hitting. The wrong keys. Wandering against.
The family decides to take a night off and stays at Al’s house because of Kayla’s illness. In the meantime, Leonia and Michael rekindle that sexual magnetism and romance. The next morning, they decide to hit the road and return home as soon as possible.
On the highway, a policeman stops them for a routine check. They become frightened that the police will detect the hidden meth. The policeman handcuffs Leonia because she seems suspicious, not knowing that a minute ago she swallowed a full bag of meth in order to conceal their crime.
Jojo is dreaded of the situation and pulls out a gris-gris bag. The officer points his gun at Jojo, not considering the consequences of its actions.
Kayla jumps between the weapon and Jojo, to save her brother. The policeman conducts a search and founds nothing in the car. He allows the family to go free but gives them a warning.
After dropping off Misty at her place, they head home to find it abandoned, in other words, empty. They are not greeted with open arms by Big Joseph, who insults Leonie and attacks Michael.
Once the things are starting to loosen up, Leonie asks her mother to give her a hand in relieving her of the pain she feels day in and day out. She performs a ritual and requests for assistance to gather a handful of items. In the meantime, Michael hits Kayle because of her negative outburst on the table.
Jojo is not to convinced in Richie’s story, but regardless they decide to make a deal. The ghost agrees to give the family a wide berth the minute he hears the story from Pop.
River gives Richie a rundown of what actually happened that day, and why he had to kill Richie, for personal reasons. Upon hearing this, Richie leaves the family for good.
Leonie performs the litany, which would help Mam to have a “safe escort” on the way over to death – guided by Given (Leonie’s older brother). Jojo is not too happy about Mam’s departure and points his anger toward Leonie.
She attempts to teach Jojo a lesson, but Pop stops her. Afterward, Leonie and Michael slip out of the house to get high when everyone is busy – leaving their children behind.
Sing, Unburied, Sing Epilogue
Jojo is heartbroken after Mam’s death, but this turn of events shapes him into a self-sufficient and fearless individual. His capacity grows, to the extent that at one moment he realizes that he has the skills to communicate with the dead.
Can’t nothing bother me when I got my hands in the dirt, he said. Like I’m talking to God with my fingers.
One day, Jojo watches many African Americans whose spirits tell a story about their violent death. Upon observing this on live oak, he is approached by Kayle whose gentle voice of Kayle calms the ghosts and incites them to accept their fate.
Like this summary? We’d Like to invite you to download our free 12 min app, for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.
“Sing, Unburied, Sing PDF Quotes”Sorrow is food swallowed too quickly, caught in the throat, making it nearly impossible to breathe. Click To Tweet Sometimes the world don’t give you what you need, no matter how hard you look. Sometimes it withholds. Click To Tweet Some days later, I understood what he was trying to say, that getting grown means learning how to work that current: learning when to hold fast, when to drop anchor, when to let it sweep you up. Click To Tweet Home is about the earth. Whether the earth open up to you. Whether it pull you so close the space between you and it melt and y’all one and it beats like your heart. Same time. Click To Tweet I hope I fed you enough. While I'm here. So you carry it with you. Like a camel.' I can hear the smile in her voice, faint. A baring of teeth. 'Maybe that ain't a good way of putting it. Like a well, Jojo. Pull that water up when you need… Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
This book shares a thought-provoking concept, which should at least be taken with caution.
On the way to success, Jesmyn briefly gives us the lowdown on the vague ideas hidden our subconscious mind that tend to delude us into making steps, which are counter-effective.