At a book sale, I picked up Mudbound only because it said ‘Winner of the Bellwether Prize for Fiction’ on the back cover of the book. At that time, I was not aware of what kind of books I like reading so, the safest bet for me would be to select books that have won some award. I would not be concerned with what the book dealt with or what it was about. Some kind of a recognition was all that mattered to me. Back in those days, I had a fiery ambition of winning the Man Booker prize myself so I would surround myself with award winning books so I could learn to write like acclaimed writers. Sadly, the approach to my dream would often backfire as most of the books I picked would fail to interest me. I would avoid reading completely because it was tiresome to keep going back to the dictionary to learn the meaning of new words. After a point, I went through a terrible reading slump wherein I did not read a book for more than two years. It was only when I discovered my love for young adult (YA) books did I realise the genre I liked the most. Though I am in my late twenties, I still read YA books the most and I don’t think I will ever be old enough to give up on my YA books.
Mudbound is not a regular young adult novel. It is nothing like what I thought it would be. More importantly, Mudbound wasn’t the book I thought I would like, but surprisingly, I did. I have not read a lot of books tackling social issues. In fact, I deliberately keep away from books that deal with serious issues. Mudbound is my first book that dealt with a serious problem like racism and post-war effects. And despite the serious topic, I did not feel bored with the story. The writing is compelling and the book is a real page turner. The book elicits empathy for the suppressed race and for those who faced the harsh realities of war. The book tracks the time immediately after the second world war and before the Civil Rights Movement in America. I enjoyed reading Mudbound and below is what I liked most about the book.
Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
Laura McAllan and her husband Henry leave the comfort of their city and move to Mississippi delta, with their two daughters and Henry’s father, to fulfil Henry’s dream of owning a farm. Laura despises the difficult life on the farm but compromises for her husband’s sake. Her life gets worse on the farm till Henry’s brother, Jamie returns from the military and fills Laura’s life with new zeal.
On the outside, Jamie appears to be a happy-go-lucky and brave war hero but on the inside, he is scarred from the events that he witnessed during the war. He turns to alcohol and women to distract himself from the pain that never subsides. He strikes an unlikely friendship with Ronsel Jackson who has also just returned home from war. Ronsel is the eldest son of the black sharecroppers who live on McAllan’s farm. Their friendship is forbidden and unacceptable by the whites which eventually leads the story to its conclusion.
Points I Liked About Mudbound
Narration: The story is narrated by the six main characters in the book. Each chapter is the point of view (POV) of a particular character. Even with the point of view changing with each character, the story does not lose its flow. The writing is crisp and gripping. Every character’s inner voice is starkly different from the others and you will never feel confused about the character you are reading.
Story: The book throws light on how racism prevailed in America before the Civil Rights movement and how the blacks were treated contemptuously by the whites. I know this racism angle may sound boring but the writer has woven the story so beautifully that you will not feel that you are reading a historical novel. I found the story engaging enough to make me finish the book.
Points I Did Not Like About Mudbound
Nothing. I am not saying that the book is flawless. I am not well-versed with the evils of racism in the States so I would not be able to comment on the shortcomings of the writer’s depiction of the minority community. I liked the writing and how the story unravelled. By the end, I was content with the story and its conclusion. So, I have no major complains with Mudbound.
Final View: If you are looking for a quick-read and gripping tale on the evils of racism, then go for Mudbound. It is well written and quiet an interesting story.
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