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07 January 2013

Mudbound

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan is a look at two families in the South in 1946.

Laura McAllen was surprised when her husband Henry announced that he had bought a farm on the Mississippi Delta. They had been married for a while, had two daughters, and he had never mentioned his desire to own land. His grandfather was a farmer and Henry always thought he would inherit the farm - until he went to war and his father sold it. Laura grew up in a small city. She had no desire to move to the middle of nowhere - away from her family and friends.

Florence and Hap Jackson are sharecroppers on the land that Henry bought. They work the land with their twin sons and daughter while their eldest son, Ronsel, is fighting in WWII. Ronsel is part of the first group of black soldiers to actually fight for the modern US military. He is part of the 761st Tank Battalion - the Black Panthers - fighting under General Patton.

Henry's brother, Jaime, joins them on the farm after he returns from the war. While friendship between black and white men is still as taboo as it was during slavery, Ronsel may be the only person who understands what Jaime went through in the war. But any version of a friendship between them will cause trouble - not least of all from Jaime's father who has no respect for anyone, least of all a black man.

Jordan's debut novel was praised all over the literary world and won the Bellweather Prize. While this time period in our history is never a comfortable read, she has created a great novel that looks at many types of people in the South in 1946.

Jordan, Hillary. (2008). Mudbound. New York: Workman Publishing.

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