REVIEW: Mudbound, Hillary Jordan

Thursday, 11 April 2019

This captivating story set in the Mississippi Delta features city-bred Laura McAllan, a woman struggling to adjust to life on her husband’s isolated farm, her brother-in-law, Jamie, newly home from the Second World War, and Ronsel Jackson, son of the black sharecroppers who work the McAllan land and himself a war hero. When the two men refuse to live by Mississippi’s strict racial mores, tragedy ensues. 

Aren’t there times you wish you could give a book more than 5 stars? Rating Mudbound was certainly one of those times. It is a novel that delves into the truly horrific realities of racism and racial discrimination in the southern United States around the end of World War 2. And, to be honest, it just made me angry. Ronsel Jackson goes off to fight for his king and country (I know that’s English and not applicable here but I honestly don’t know the Americanism), doing so despite the fact that his ‘king’ and his country does not give a single shit about him; he fights, he loves, he lives; and then he comes back to the same segregated hell hole and is treated in a way that I do not even want to speak about. Although, even if I wanted to, I probably would not be able to, on account of the nausea.
Which, as someone who is from the United Kingdom and was therefore subjected to its ridiculous Anglocentric education system, I will admit right now that I did not realise the sheer amount of racial hatred was so bad in the 1940s in the States… I am not saying it was any better in Europe, but Jesus Christ. I had to stop and remind myself, near-constantly throughout the entirety of the reading experience that, no, this book is not set in the 1800s or in another period where slavery was illegal.
This was 1945. 1945!
Relatively modern by the opinions of the history books.
Although utterly archaic and barbaric in terms of the limits of human behaviour.
Throughout Mudbound, Hillary Jordan manages to capture the utter gaping darkness of the period, cut through only by the sparse appearances of light from human love and kindness. And, I have not watched the film yet but, with the cast being what it is, I am certain that the tale (no matter what its form) will stay with me forever.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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