“I talked to her just like I talk to a laboring woman. Mothers need to hear them soothing words. They just as important as the medicines, sometimes even more.”
I started watching this movie on Netflix but I got distracted and didn’t get past the first 20 minutes. I later found out that it was adapted from a book so I decided to go hunt the book down. I found this book on Thrift Books of course and decided to add it to my reading list for this month. Check out my review of Mudbound.
Mudbound is Hillary Jordan’s debut novel and was published in 2008. This book grabbed me from the beginning and is written in first person from the point of view of several characters. This book is 328 pages long but can vary depending on the format.
Laura, the wife of Henry McAllan, who is not all too happy about being uprooted from her home in Memphis Tennessee and brought to live in squalor on a farm in the muck of the Mississippi Delta. Not only does she have to deal with the unsavory surroundings of the farm but she also has to deal with a vindictive and racist father in law. His racism doesn’t affect her as much as it affects the black family that works on the McAllan farm.
Henry, former soldier and dreamer. Laura’s husband who dreams of being a farmer (to her surprise), only seems to care about the farm. He relies on the help from the Jackson’s which really irritates me because it is as if he expects then to bend over backward for his family but when Hap Jackson breaks his leg and loses his only mule Henry has the nerve to charge the family to use their mule.
Initially upon reading what the book was about I was thinking that this family came together to make the best of their living conditions. I was expecting some harmony. But no; this family only continued to treat the Jackson’s like slaves. Maybe house slaves, but slaves just the same. I wanted to like the white family in this book; but I couldn’t because no matter how much the McAllan’s depended on the Jackson’s they still found ways to maintain their racist superiority and ideologies.
Jamie, Henry’s brother who served as a pilot during WWII, was probably the only one that I had a little bit of faith in. He formed a strong bond with the Jackson’s son Ronsel who was also a war hero. But a black war hero didn’t mean anything in America then. And it definitely didn’t mean a thing in the south. I did enjoy reading their interactions because Jamie treated Ronsel as equal as he knew how. He even tried to protect him.
I had so many mixed emotions throughout this book. Anger and empathy for Laura, but also a great deal of anger toward her. And Pappy made my blood boil every time he spoke. Just a disgusting character. If I had to pick a favorite character I would choose Florence Jackson; Ronsel’s mother. She was strong and I loved the fact that she believed in “alternative” forms of healing. She was a midwife; but a doctor in her own right.
I don’t want to give too much of the book away because I strongly recommend you read it. It is very well written and every chapter draws you in because it comes from a different point of view. There is not a huge amount of meaningless, extravagant descriptions and it is easy to follow. For me this book grabbed me and kept me throughout. It took me about 4 days to read it because I am usually always reading several books at once.
Over all I will give this book a flashing 4 stars. Only because I did not appreciate the ending for the Jackson family. I felt like there was not a far balance between the two families. I am probably biased but I feel that this book was a little biased too.
In the winter of 1946, Henry McAllen moves his city-bred wife, Laura, from their comfortable home in Memphis, Tennessee to a remote cotton farm in the Mississippi Delta—a place she finds both foreign and frightening. While Henry works the land he loves, Laura struggles to raise their two young daughters in a crude shack with no indoor plumbing or electricity, under the eye of her hateful, racist father-in-law. When it rains, the waters rise up and swallow the bridge to town, stranding the family in a sea of mud.
As the McAllens are being tested in every way, two celebrated soldiers of World War II return home to the Delta. Jamie McAllen is everything his older brother Henry is not: charming, handsome, and sensitive to Laura’s plight, but also haunted by his memories of combat. Ronsel Jackson, eldest son of the black tenant farmers who live on the McAllen farm, comes home from fighting the Nazis with the shine of a war hero, only to face far more personal—and dangerous—battles against the ingrained bigotry of his own countrymen. It is the unlikely friendship of these two brothers-in-arms, and the passions they arouse in others, that drive the novel to its tragic conclusion.