Sing, Unburied, Sing will transport you to literal and spiritual places. Read this book when you’re in an introspective mood about your history, or your family’s history. Or if you’d like a glimpse into the history of the Deep South of the United States.

Sing, Unburied, Sing reminds us that the memory of those we’ve loved and lost will often live long after their physical bodies are gone from our world. While at the same time, the memory of those who have died is still very much tied to our physical bodies and world, as well, via subsequent generations of children and trauma– essentially, inherited trauma.

Throughout the novel, ghosts who had traumatic lives, and incredibly traumatic deaths, haunt the living to have their stories told and to be remembered, so that they can remember. It’s as if their memory both helps and traumatizes the living.

Jojo’s narrative is compelling and will draw you in as he meets and learns about Richie while keeping his mother at arm’s-length and looking out for his baby sister. His character is so vulnerable and raw, and you can sense his growing understanding of the trauma he is inheriting from previous generations, which makes the reader understand it a little better, as well.

Richie’s narrative seems to link the older generations with the younger ones. Jojo starts to understand his grandfather (and even his mother) a little better once Richie comes into the picture and starts to shed his adolescence. In this way, Richie the ghost, is critical to Jojo growing into a man.

Leonie’s narrative was the toughest one for me to read, although I did appreciate its rawness, as well. Overall, I just couldn’t grasp her infatuation with Michael (who was connected to the people who killed her brother) and why she was so apathetic toward her children. Was it because she was trying to deny her own family and inherited trauma? Or because of the drugs? This never seemed to be answered or addressed to me, which is unfortunate, because I really wanted to get more into her psyche and understand her inner workings so much more in the end.

I would recommend this book to fans of work by Toni Morrison, Tyari Jones, and Colson Whitehead.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

For more information about this novel, see the summary of Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward on Goodreads.

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