The men and women of each family relate their versions of events and we are drawn into their lives as they become players in a tragedy on the grandest scale. As Barbara Kingsolver says of Hillary Jordan, "Her characters walked straight out of 1940s Mississippi and into the part of my brain where sympathy and anger and love reside, leaving my heart racing. They are with me still."
About the Author
HILLARY JORDAN grew up in Texas and Oklahoma and received her MFA in fiction from Columbia University. Mudbound, her first novel, was awarded the 2006 Bellwether Prize, founded by Barbara Kingsolver to recognize literature of social responsibility.
|Publisher:||Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
Hillary Jordan is the author of the novels Mudbound (2008) and When She Woke (2011), as well as the digital short “Aftermirth.”Mudbound won the 2006 Bellwether Prize, founded by Barbara Kingsolver to recognize socially conscious fiction, and a 2009 Alex Award from the American Library Association. It was the 2008 NAIBA Fiction Book of the Year and was long-listed for the 2010 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Paste magazine named it one of the Top Ten Debut Novels of the Decade. Mudbound has been translated into French, Italian, Serbian, Swedish, and Norwegian, and the film version is forthcoming in fall 2017.When She Woke was long-listed for the 2013 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and was a 2012 Lambda Literary Award finalist. It has been translated into French, German, Spanish, Turkish, Brazilian Portuguese, and Chinese complex characters. Jordan has a BA from Wellesley College and an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University. She grew up in Dallas, Texas, and Muskogee, Oklahoma, and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Read an Excerpt
By Hillary Jordan
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Copyright © 2008
All right reserved.
Chapter One JAMIE
Henry and I dug the hole seven feet deep. Any shallower and the corpse was liable to come rising up during the next big flood: Howdy boys! Remember me? The thought of it kept us digging even after the blisters on our palms had burst, re-formed and burst again. Every shovelful was an agony-the old man, getting in his last licks. Still, I was glad of the pain. It shoved away thought and memory.
When the hole got too deep for our shovels to reach bottom, I climbed down into it and kept digging while Henry paced and watched the sky. The soil was so wet from all the rain it was like digging into raw meat. I scraped it off the blade by hand, cursing at the delay. This was the first break we'd had in the weather in three days and could be our last chance for some while to get the body in the ground.
"Better hurry it up," Henry said.
I looked at the sky. The clouds overhead were the color of ash, but there was a vast black mass of them to the north, and it was headed our way. Fast.
"We're not gonna make it," I said.
"We will," he said.
That was Henry for you: absolutely certain that whatever he wanted to happen would happen. The body would get buried before the storm hit. The weather would dry out in time to resow the cotton. Next year would be a better year. His little brother would never betray him.
I dug faster, wincing with every stroke. I knew I could stop at any time and Henry would take my place without a word of complaint-never mind he had nearly fifty years on his bones to my twenty-nine. Out of pride or stubbornness or both, I kept digging. By the time he said, "All right, my turn," my muscles were on fire and I was wheezing like an engine full of old gas. When he pulled me up out of the hole, I gritted my teeth so I wouldn't cry out. My body still ached in a dozen places from all the kicks and blows, but Henry didn't know about that.
Henry could never know about that.
I knelt by the side of the hole and watched him dig. His face and hands were so caked with mud a passerby might have taken him for a Negro. No doubt I was just as filthy, but in my case the red hair would have given me away. My father's hair, copper spun so fine women's fingers itch to run through it. I've always hated it. It might as well be a pyre blazing on top of my head, shouting to the world that he's in me. Shouting it to me every time I look in the mirror.
Around four feet, Henry's blade hit something hard.
"What is it?" I asked.
"Piece of rock, I think."
But it wasn't rock, it was bone-a human skull, missing a big chunk in back. "Damn," Henry said, holding it up to the light.
"What do we do now?"
"I don't know."
We both looked to the north. The black was growing, eating up the sky.
"We can't start over," I said. "It could be days before the rain lets up again."
"I don't like it," Henry said. "It's not right."
He kept digging anyway, using his hands, passing the bones up to me as he unearthed them: ribs, arms, pelvis. When he got to the lower legs, there was a clink of metal. He held up a tibia and I saw the crude, rusted iron shackle encircling the bone. A broken chain dangled from it.
"Jesus Christ," Henry said. "This is a slave's grave."
"You don't know that."
He picked up the broken skull. "See here? He was shot in the head. Must've been a runaway." Henry shook his head. "That settles it."
"We can't bury our father in a nigger's grave," Henry said. "There's nothing he'd have hated more. Now help me out of here." He extended one grimy hand.
"It could have been an escaped convict," I said. "A white man." It could have been, but I was betting it wasn't. Henry hesitated, and I said, "The penitentiary's what, just six or seven miles from here?"
"More like ten," he said. But he let his hand fall to his side.
"Come on," I said, holding out my own hand. "Take a break. I'll dig awhile." When he reached up and clasped it, I had to stop myself from smiling. Henry was right: there was nothing our father would have hated more.
Henry was back to digging again when I saw Laura coming toward us, picking her way across the drowned fields with a bucket in each hand. I fished in my pocket for my handkerchief and used it to wipe some of the mud off my face. Vanity -that's another thing I got from my father.
"Laura's coming," I said.
"Pull me up," Henry said.
I grabbed his hands and pulled, grunting with the effort, dragging him over the lip of the grave. He struggled to his knees, breathing harshly. He bent his head and his hat came off, revealing a wide swath of pink skin on top. The sight of it gave me a sharp, unexpected pang. He's getting old, I thought. I won't always have him.
He looked up, searching for Laura. When his eyes found her they lit with emotions so private I was embarrassed to see them: longing, hope, a tinge of worry. "I'd better keep at it," I said, turning away and picking up the shovel. I half jumped, half slid down into the hole. It was deep enough now that I couldn't see out. Just as well.
"How's it coming?" I heard Laura say. As always, her voice coursed through me like cold, clear water. It was a voice that belonged rightfully to some ethereal creature, a siren or an angel, not to a middle-aged Mississippi farmwife.
"We're almost finished," said Henry. "Another foot or so will see it done."
"I've brought food and water," she said.
"Water!" Henry let out a bitter laugh. "That's just what we need, is more water." I heard the scrape of the dipper against the pail and the sound of him swallowing, then Laura's head appeared over the side of the hole. She handed the dipper down to me.
"Here," she said, "have a drink."
I gulped it down, wishing it were whiskey instead. I'd run out three days ago, just before the bridge flooded, cutting us off from town. I reckoned the river had gone down enough by now that I could have gotten across-if I hadn't been stuck in that damned hole.
I thanked her and handed the dipper back up to her, but Laura wasn't looking at me. Her eyes were fixed on the other side of the grave, where we'd laid the bones.
"Good Lord, are those human?" she said.
"It couldn't be helped," Henry said. "We were already four feet down when we found them."
I saw her lips twitch as her eyes took in the shackles and chains. She covered her mouth with her hand, then turned to Henry. "Make sure you move them so the children don't see," she said.
When the top of the grave was more than a foot over my head, I stopped digging. "Come take a look," I called out. "I think this is plenty deep."
Henry's face appeared above me, upside down. He nodded. "Yep. That should do it." I handed him the shovel, but when he tried to pull me up, it was no use. I was too far down, and our hands and the walls of the hole were too slick.
"I'll fetch the ladder," he said.
I waited in the hole. Around me was mud, stinking and oozing. Overhead a rectangle of darkening gray. I stood with my neck bent back, listening for the returning squelch of Henry's boots, wondering what was taking him so goddamn long. If something happened to him and Laura, I thought, no one would know I was here. I clutched the edge of the hole and tried to pull myself up, but my fingers just slid through the mud.
Then I felt the first drops of rain hit my face. "Henry!" I yelled.
The rain was falling lightly now, but before long it would be a downpour. The water would start filling up the hole. I'd feel it creeping up my legs to my thighs. To my chest. To my neck. "Henry! Laura!"
I threw myself at the walls of the grave like a maddened bear in a pit. Part of me was outside myself, shaking my head at my own foolishness, but the man was powerless to help the bear. It wasn't the confinement; I'd spent hundreds of hours in cockpits with no problem at all. It was the water. During the war I'd avoided flying over the open ocean whenever I could, even if it meant facing flak from the ground. It was how I won all those medals for bravery: from being so scared of that vast, hungry blue that I drove straight into the thick of German antiaircraft fire.
I was yelling so hard I didn't hear Henry until he was standing right over me. "I'm here, Jamie! I'm here!" he shouted.
He lowered the ladder into the hole and I scrambled up it. He tried to take hold of my arm, but I waved him off. I bent over, my hands on my knees, trying to slow the tripping of my heart.
"You all right?" he asked.
I didn't look at him, but I didn't have to. I knew his forehead would be puckered and his mouth pursed-his "my brother, the lunatic" look.
"I thought maybe you'd decided to leave me down there," I said, with a forced laugh.
"Why would I do that?"
"I'm just kidding, Henry." I went and took up the ladder, tucking it under one arm. "Come on, let's get this over with."
We hurried across the fields, stopping at the pump to wash the mud off our hands and faces, then headed to the barn to get the coffin. It was a sorry-looking thing, made of mismatched scrap wood, but it was the best we'd been able to do with the materials we had. Henry frowned as he picked up one end. "I wish to hell we'd been able to get to town," he said.
"Me too," I said, thinking of the whiskey.
We carried the coffin up onto the porch. When we went past the open window Laura called out, "You'll want hot coffee and a change of clothes before we bury him."
"No," said Henry. "There's no time. Storm's coming."
We took the coffin into the lean-to and set it on the rough plank floor. Henry lifted the sheet to look at our father's face one last time. Pappy's expression was tranquil. There was nothing to show that his death was anything other than the natural, timely passing of an old man.
I lifted the feet and Henry took the head. "Gently now," he said.
"Right," I said, "we wouldn't want to hurt him."
"That's not the point," Henry snapped.
"Sorry, brother. I'm just tired."
With ludicrous care, we lowered the corpse into the coffin. Henry reached for the lid. "I'll finish up here," he said. "You go make sure Laura and the girls are ready."
As I walked into the house I heard the hammer strike the first nail, a sweet and final sound. It made the children jump.
"What's that banging, Mama?" asked Amanda Leigh.
"That's your daddy, nailing Pappy's coffin shut," Laura said.
"Will it make him mad?" Bella's voice was a scared whisper.
Laura shot me a quick, fierce glance. "No, darling," she said. "Pappy's dead. He can't get mad at anyone ever again. Now, let's get you into your coats and boots. It's time to lay your grandfather to rest."
I was glad Henry wasn't there to hear the satisfaction in her voice.
Chapter Two LAURA
When I think of the farm, I think of mud. Limning my husband's fingernails and encrusting the children's knees and hair. Sucking at my feet like a greedy newborn on the breast. Marching in boot-shaped patches across the plank floors of the house. There was no defeating it. The mud coated everything. I dreamed in brown.
When it rained, as it often did, the yard turned into a thick gumbo, with the house floating in it like a soggy cracker. When the rains came hard, the river rose and swallowed the bridge that was the only way across. The world was on the other side of that bridge, the world of light bulbs and paved roads and shirts that stayed white. When the river rose, the world was lost to us and we to it.
One day slid into the next. My hands did what was necessary: pumping, churning, scouring, scraping. And cooking, always cooking. Snapping beans and the necks of chickens. Kneading dough, shucking corn and digging the eyes out of potatoes. No sooner was breakfast over and the mess cleaned up than it was time to start on dinner. After dinner came supper, then breakfast again the next morning.
Get up at first light. Go to the outhouse. Do your business, shivering in the winter, sweating in the summer, breathing through your mouth year-round. Steal the eggs from under the hens. Haul in wood from the pile and light the stove. Make the biscuits, slice the bacon and fry it up with the eggs and grits. Rouse your daughters from their bed, brush their teeth, guide arms into sleeves and feet into socks and boots. Take your youngest out to the porch and hold her up so she can clang the bell that will summon your husband from the fields and wake his hateful father in the lean-to next door. Feed them all and yourself. Scrub the iron skillet, the children's faces, the mud off the floors day after day while the old man sits and watches. He is always on you: "You better stir them greens, gal. You better sweep that floor now. Better teach them brats some manners. Wash them clothes. Feed them chickens. Fetch me my cane." His voice, clotted from smoking. His sly pale eyes with their hard black centers, on you.
He scared the children, especially my youngest, who was a little chubby.
"Come here, little piglet," he'd say to her.
She peered at him from behind my legs. At his long yellow teeth. At his bony yellow fingers with their thick curved nails like pieces of ancient horn.
"Come here and sit on my lap."
He had no interest in holding her or any other child, he just liked knowing she was afraid of him. When she wouldn't come, he told her she was too fat to sit on his lap anyway, she might break his bones. She started to cry, and I imagined that old man in his coffin. Pictured the lid closing on his face, the box being lowered into the hole. Heard the dirt striking the wood.
"Pappy," I said, smiling sweetly at him, "how about a nice cup of coffee?"
But I must start at the beginning, if I can find it. Beginnings are elusive things. Just when you think you have hold of one, you look back and see another, earlier beginning, and an earlier one before that. Even if you start with "Chapter One: I Am Born," you still have the problem of antecedents, of cause and effect. Why is young David fatherless? Because, Dickens tells us, his father died of a delicate constitution. Yes, but where did this mortal delicacy come from? Dickens doesn't say, so we're left to speculate. A congenital defect, perhaps, inherited from his mother, whose own mother had married beneath her to spite her cruel father, who'd been beaten as a child by a nursemaid who was forced into service when her faithless husband abandoned her for a woman he chanced to meet when his carriage wheel broke in front of the milliner's where she'd gone to have her hat trimmed. If we begin there, young David is fatherless because his great-great-grandfather's nursemaid's husband's future mistress's hat needed adornment.
By the same logic, my father-in-law was murdered because I was born plain rather than pretty. That's one possible beginning. There are others: Because Henry saved Jamie from drowning in the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. Because Pappy sold the land that should have been Henry's. Because Jamie flew too many bombing missions in the war. Because a Negro named Ronsel Jackson shone too brightly. Because a man neglected his wife, and a father betrayed his son, and a mother exacted vengeance. I suppose the beginning depends on who's telling the story. No doubt the others would start somewhere different, but they'd still wind up at the same place in the end.
It's tempting to believe that what happened on the farm was inevitable; that in fact all the events of our lives are as predetermined as the moves in a game of tic-tac-toe: Start in the middle square and no one wins. Start in one of the corners and the game is yours. And if you don't start, if you let the other person start? You lose, simple as that.
The truth isn't so simple. Death may be inevitable, but love is not. Love, you have to choose.
I'll begin with that. With love.
There's a lot of talk in the Bible about cleaving. Men and women cleaving unto God. Husbands cleaving to wives. Bones cleaving to skin. Cleaving, we are to understand, is a good thing. The righteous cleave; the wicked do not.
On my wedding day, my mother-in a vague attempt to prepare me for the indignities of the marriage bed-told me to cleave to Henry no matter what. "It will hurt at first," she said, as she fastened her pearls around my neck. "But it will get easier in time."
Mother was only half-right.
Excerpted from Mudbound by Hillary Jordan Copyright © 2008 by Hillary Jordan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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What People are Saying About This
"This is storytelling at the height of its powers: the ache of wrongs not yet made right, the fierce attendance of history made as real as rain, as true as this minute. Hillary Jordan writes with the force of a Delta storm." —Barbara Kingsolver
"This is storytelling at the height of its powers: the ache of wrongs not yet made right, the fierce attendance of history made as real as rain, as true as this minute. Hillary Jordan writes with the force of a Delta storm." —Barbara Kingsolver
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Mudbound is so fascinating, you will want to read the whole book in one sitting. The multiple plots within the book and the characters are very well conceived and thought provoking.
Wow - you know when you're searched and read the first two chapters of every dam book for the past 2 months looking for something that will really hold you. Well, oh my goodness... if I knew about this book before, I would not have wasted so much time reading all those other fake books. This author is going to become very huge. This book is going to become a movie. I dare hollywood to leave this behind. When you start reading this book, you are going to need to go slowly because it's her first book and you wont want it to end because you dont know when the next one is coming out. yet, how can you read slowly when you have no control over the rate at which you're being sucked in. Ok. I'm not telling you anything else. Read THE BOOOKKK!
To say that I enjoyed this book would be rather a strange way to put it as the subject is painfull to read about. However, I am very glad that I read this book. Mudbound is well written with interesting, fully developed characters. Written from each characters' point of view this book gives the reader a good idea of where each person is "coming from." I believe this book would make an excellent choice for book club discussions.
And engrossing It's disturbing that characters like this really DID exist. I read the whole book in 2 days-I simply couldn't put it down. If you enjoyed "The Help" and "The Secret Life of Bees" this is definitely the book for you.
This novel wasn't bad, but it wasn't very enjoyable, either. The writing wasn't very advanced, and the characters weren't believable. The six different perspectives, too, were irritating, in that there were so few chapters in each one's viewpoint, being so spread out besides, that one couldn't really get the feel for any of the characters; if one desired to tell a story through six different perspectives, I think that the author should have greater than 324 pages in telling it. Pappy, one of the main characters (though not having an actual voice in this novel), seemed unreal in character, his actions never really being justified, the main purpose of them being, at least indicated, anyway, that he was just plain evil, no reason for it. The plot, too, was rather messy in execution; the beginning having too little, being a couple hundred pages or greater all about farm life, while the eventful portion only took little less than a hundred pages, seeming crammed and rushed, in that, when disaster struck, you didn't really feel any personal connection with the characters. A decent read, not horrible, by any means, but not a real memorable, "wow" kind of read.
I couldn't put the book down. After I finished reading, I could not get the characters out of my mind. I liked the way Hilary Jordan wrote each chapter alternating characters and in doing so, she brought the character to life. She wrote about a terrible time in our nation's history and she did it in such a way that the reader could feel all the emotions of her characters.
Wow..a page turner..i love books which are narrarted by character, like Mudbound, and The Kitchen House..she did a fabulous job writing her very first novel..
Mudbound is one of the books that I found hard to put down. It was very well written and I liked that it went back and forth between the characters in their own voices. The story drew me in at just the right pace. Nothing drawn out before you got into the story.
I was overwhelmed by the power this book held. Such a gripping story with characters you fall in love with & despise. Brilliant!
This book was very good. I liked the fact that the chapters were different people in the book.
This book was phenomenal. The development of the characters and how their live's intertwined kept me totally mesmerized. I didn't want it to end. Great new writer, great new book.
This book was intense. For someone who grew up in the south, the attitudes of some southerners toward black people bewilder me. This novel tells the story from each characters point of view. In a less talented writer's hands, the constant switch of viewpoints could be cumbersome, but this author so thoroughly fleshed out each character and gave them their own unique voice that the character switches ended up being fascinating. The story was tragic, but the book was wonderful. Excellent first novel. I still find that hard to believe.
If you enjoyed The Help, this isfor you.
I was really looking forward to reading Mudbound, since I love novels written about the South. However, this novel was somewhat boring and very slow. I did like that each chapter was written from each characters perspective, but there just isn't much to the story, and felt it a waste of time.
I loved this book and want to share it with family and was very dismayed to find out I could only lend it once!! I bought this book and feel I should be able to lend it as often as I'd like. I would appreciate it BN would change this policy The star rating is for the book
It was quite simple to fall into the mindset of some of the characters. The language used made me easily envision who I was reading in each chapter. Jamie and Ronsel were written very well.
A page-turner. Told from six different points of view, the story of rural farmers, black and white, in 1940s Mississippi leads to a brutal climax.
It is rare that I can finish a book in just two days, with so many competing distractions in the world, but this book seized my attention, and kept me reading. The story itself is astonishing, compassionately told: both heart-felt and heartbreaking, with every element of human emotion imaginable, pain and love, suffering and kindness, surprise and despair, with nothing held back in the telling. Highly recommended!
I really did not like this book as much as the hype led me to think I would. I do think that Ms. Jordan is a good storyteller - so good that when one of the violent chapters toward the end was about to begin, I stopped reading because I knew I couldn't take her graphic storytelling. I think it is interesting that she titled her chapters with different characters' names as though she were changing view points. But she really didn't change voices at all - the story was told in Laura's voice almost entirely.A dark and tragic book to remind us that we have made some progress in race relations in our country. I don't know - can't put my finger on why it didn't work for me. I do know there were several chapters I skipped - just couldn't take the horrendous pain and sadness.
Mudbound by Hillary Jordan takes place in rural Mississippi in the 1940¿s. The McAllan family ¿ Laura, Henry and their two young daughters, along with Henry¿s racist father Pappy ¿ buy land with a downtrodden farm on it, and try to make a go of farming. The Jacksons, their black sharecroppers, are also trying to be successful at farming and hope to be able to buy land someday. But when Henry¿s brother Jamie and the Jackson¿s son Ronsel return home emotionally damaged from the war, the two families find themselves in a difficult position. Jamie and Ronsel begin to drift into a prohibited friendship fueled by their common experiences as soldiers, and tensions begin to rise.Everyone in Mudbound carries the baggage of bigotry and racism. Even Laura, who is meant to be the peacemaker, cannot escape the hatred that dwells in her community.This was not to say that I thought Florence and her family was equal to me and mine. I called her Florence and she called me Miz McAllan. She and Lilly May didn¿t use our outhouse, but did their business in the bushes out back. And when we sat down to the noon meal, the two of them ate outside on the porch. ¿ from Mudbound, page 97 -Jordan constructs her novel in alternating points of view including those of Jamie, Ronsel, Laura, Henry, Hap (Ronsel¿s father), and Florence (Ronsel¿s mother). The narratives succeed in delivering a variety of different perspectives about the unfolding events.I should have loved this novel set in the deep South which explores themes of identity, racism, and betrayal. Instead, I found myself annoyed with the predictability of the story and the mostly stereotypical characters. Pappy, Henry¿s hateful father, is so mean and despicable that he comes off as a cardboard character. It comes as no surprise when he is later revealed to be a member of the KKK. Laura¿s efforts to stand up to her controlling husband seems contrived by the author to insert a strong female into the mix. Even Jamie, who is one of the more likable characters in the book, is typecast as the stereoptypical damaged soldier who finds solace in alcohol, and of course is the one member of his family who defies the rigid views of his community.Despite these flaws, Mudbound is a novel whose pages turn effortlessly. It is a familiar story, a bit like watching a train wreck, but I found I wanted to see it unfold if only to see if I had correctly figured out the plot (I did). I found myself a bit horrified by the graphic ending which seemed to be the point. In fact, Jordan does not spare the reader any of the raw hate which surrounded persecution of blacks in the south during this time in history. It is disturbing and uncomfortable.This novel has captured its share of accolades, including the 2006 Bellwether Prize for fiction, even though it didn¿t blow me away. Readers who love Southern fiction, might give this one a try¿especially since I seem to be in the minority of those readers who didn¿t love the book.
A great read! Each main character speaks with his own voice to tell us the story. Laura, Henry, Jamie, Florence, and Jaimie have their own view of life in rural Mississippi after WWII.
I agree with the reviews that say this was a remarkable and wonderful book---gripping, yes. You could feel the lives of each of the characters--the good, the bad and the very, very ugly. Moving along in first person to each of the people involved was a challenging task on the part of the author but very rewarding to the reader. Unfortunately, it is all too recent that this fictional account, in reality, took place and is still such a big part of our lives.
What a wonderful book!Told in multiple perspectives (a favorite technique of mine - when done well, which this is) this tells the story of two families in rural Mississippi in the 1940s. It tells of their lives and their pain.Laura, husband Henry, brother in law Jamie and African American neighbors Hap, Florence and Ronsel.
Hillary Jordan does a masterful job of capturing a time gone by and portraying the mindset of distinctly different characters at a volatile time in America. Set in the South in the 1940s, the clashes between the races are rampant as people struggle just to eke out a living. Told in the first person point of view of five characters, readers will be drawn into the story from the very beginning to the bitter end. A dynamic debut from a talented writer.
I am "from off"; transplant to the south, who has now lived here for the majority of my life. There is much that I love about this region, especially the lush beauty of the land. The culture and history interests me, but mostly from the days that predate the European invasion. For it is with that invasion that some of the most mystifying and horrifying elements of southern culture set root. The institution of slavery, then the Jim Crow years and the horrible bigotry and racism that festers in society make my head and stomach hurt. But this book, which captivated me from the start, is set smack dab in the middle of those years, post WWII, when racism and bigotry reigned.This story, both delicate and brutal, is told from several different viewpoints. I didn't realize that at first, and found myself confused in the beginning because my preconceived idea was that this was Laura's story. But when does anyone's story exist in isolation? Such is the case here as the threads interweave to tell the tale. Though not easy to read because of the subject matter, Jordan's debut novel is a beautifully written story of heartbreak, hatred and survival