ARC Review: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

32920226 Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Pub. date: September 5th, 2017
Publisher: Scribner
Format: E-galley
ISBN: 9781501126062
Source: Netgalley

Thanks so much to Netgalley and Scribner for providing me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

Trigger Warnings: Dead sibling, addiction, cancer, dying family member, drugs

Plot: Jojo and his little sister Kayla live with their grandparents in rural Mississippi, and only occasionally see their mother Leonie. The grandmother is dying of cancer. the grandfather is trying to run the household and teach Jojo life lessons, and Leonie sees visions of her dead brother when she gets high. Then, when Jojo and Kayla’s white father Michael is released from prison, Leonie packs the kids and a friend in a car, and travels across the state to the Mississippi State Penitentiary. a journey that’s full of danger and promise.

It is of no surprise that Jesmyn Ward won the National Book Award for this novel. She is just such a fantastic writer, and has the ability to make readers of her work empathize with the most flawed characters. Characters who in theory should be the villains of the story, but you end up feeling for them. She makes you ache for them. All of her characters have experienced, or are experiencing an immense amount of pain, and this is reflected in their worldviews, the choices they make, and the lives they live.

The story mainly comes from the perspectives of Jojo and Leonie, who are both people of few words, always on guard, but their internal voices convey everything that they would not say out loud to the reader, and basically set up the entire book. Jojo is coming of age and holds so much resentment towards his mother, who is an absentee parent, while absorbing crucial life lessons from Pop, his grandfather, as he is trying to figure out how to be a man. Leonie on the other hand is the character that put me through the wringer emotionally. She is so deeply flawed, and everything she does or that Jojo says she does or does not do makes you want to hate her, but reading her perspective and what she’s thinking makes you not only empathize, but just ache for her. A drug addict, she’s haunted by visions of her dead brother whenever she’s high, and it’s a punch in the gut to read about it. 

Jesmyn’s skill comes through in how she uses her characters- a lot of them are symbolic to further the story. Her writing makes you feel such pain with a story where terrible things just keep happening and there seems no reprieve, but still leaves you feeling hopeful at the end of it. There is no particularly happy ending, nothing is neatly tied up or resolved. Therein lies its beauty. I honestly could not find a single flaw in this book.

This was my first time reading her full-length novels (I’d previously read her memoir, Men We Reaped, and The Fire This Time), and she has become one of my favorite authors. I’m a total sucker for books that make me feel pain and that just sucker- punch me with all the emotions, and Sing, Unburied, Sing did just that. Devastatingly beautiful prose and an absolutely engrossing story, it is undoubtedly one of my favorites of 2017, and one that I urge you to read if you haven’t already. 

-J

 

 

Cover Reveal: 27 Hours by Tristina Wright

Gather around booknerds, I have an exciting announcement to make!

Behold, the cover of Tristina Wright’s highly anticipated debut novel 27 Hours (The Nightshade Sage, #1), is finally ready to be revealed! Gird your loins, friends.

*drumroll please*

AAAAAANNNNNDDDDD HERE IT IS!

 

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Title: 27 Hours (The Nightside Saga. #1)
Author: Tristina Wright
Release Date: October 3, 2017
 

Book Description: Rumor Mora fears two things: hellhounds too strong for him to kill, and failure. Jude Welton has two dreams: for humans to stop killing monsters, and for his strange abilities to vanish.

But in no reality should a boy raised to love monsters fall for a boy raised to kill them.

Nyx Llorca keeps two secrets: the moon speaks to her, and she’s in love with Dahlia, her best friend. Braeden Tennant wants two things: to get out from his mother’s shadow, and to unlearn Epsilon’s darkest secret.

They’ll both have to commit treason to find the truth.

During one twenty-seven-hour night, if they can’t stop the war between the colonies and the monsters from becoming a war of extinction, the things they wish for will never come true, and the things they fear will be all that’s left.

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Isn’t it goddamn gorgeous?

Oh, by the way, in case you don’t know who Tristina is: 

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Author Bio: Tristina Wright is a blue-haired bisexual with anxiety and opinions. She’s also possibly a mermaid, but no one can get confirmation. She fell in love with science fiction and fantasy at a young age and frequently got caught writing in class instead of paying attention. She enjoys worlds with monsters and kissing and monsters kissing. She married a nerd who can build computers and make the sun shine with his smile. Most days, she can be found drinking coffee from her favorite chipped mug and making up more stories for her wombfruit, who keep life exciting and unpredictable. Still trying to figure out the mermaid thing.

If you’re like me and are dying to read about space teenagers saving their world (who are hella queer, might I add), then you can go ahead and pre-order this beauty on Amazon (US),  Amazon (UK), Amazon (CA)Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, or Book Depository. Feel free to add it to your Goodreads while you’re at it. 

You can also check out Tristina’s website, like her Facebook page, follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr, and if you’re wondering how she achieves that mermaid look you can check out her Snapchat (@tristinawright) for sneak peaks to her every-changing do. 

Suffice to say I’m super excited to read this book, and I hope you are too! Tristina is one of the kindest people I follow on Twitter, and is a hell of an ally to POC. I’m really glad to be able to support her with this cover reveal. Congratulations Tristina, and I wish you all the best!

-J

Finding Focus: From Intention to Action

When I started this blog a few months ago, I didn’t start it with a specific intention. I had recently discovered the bookternet, and wanted to join the bandwagon. Since then, I’ve sporadically written posts and reviews and such, because the only thing I’ve ever been clear about this blog is that reading is my priority and I’m not about to start shaving off reading time in favor of writing, or doing my laundry, or anything.

Curating all of my social media to be all about books- following bloggers and authors, posting pictures of my reading, general book squeeing- was quite the eye-opener. I learned a lot about the intersections of publishing and social justice, #ownvoices, the push for diversity, problematic representation, etc. I’d never been mindful of any of this prior to this year, but it became something I couldn’t unsee. 2016 has been my best reading year by a long shot, but along with it has come a certain mindfulness about how we talk about books and the ginormous influence on readers, I had several “holy shit that’s so effing true!” realizations about all of it. I made friends with wonderful people like Naz and Bina, as well as the #DiverseBookBloggers, who were all dedicating their time to actively promoting diverse books and authors of colour. By this time I was all aboard with the gravity of representation in publishing, having revelatory conversations with book friends and learning so much. The blog still remained as it was- without intention.

I’ve had some time to think about this in the last couple of months, and the lack of intention was starting to really bother me. I was fixated on having a theme of some sort on the blog that was different, not for stats (I still haven’t figured what most of them mean or how I’m supposed to use that data to gain followers), but just to be able t0 contribute in a way that was unlike whatever already existed in what felt like an oversaturated book blogging community. In that time, I was becoming more vocal on twitter about the importance of diversity, and had also been burned pretty badly by some books that I’d read or bought which were just products of the power of patriarchy and white privilege. The more I paid attention, I was stunned by the mediocre bar set for privileged folks to publish their books. I was also outraged by the harassment marginalized authors and bloggers were receiving for daring to speak about problematic content. I was seething, and disillusioned, and filled with an urge to take action.

All of that introspection brought me to this- this was never supposed to be about me. Instead of worrying about how this blog can stand out, I’m going to stop centering myself, and focus on the cause- on boosting marginalized voices and experiences. Clearly, publishing has a long way to go, so why not add my voice to the cause? I’ve realized that at this point we need every person we can get to talk about own voices and diverse books, and the only reason I ever felt we had plenty of people talking about it was me living in my tiny privileged bubble of like-minded book people. It’s high time I acknowledge that privilege, and use it to do something. It doesn’t mean I’ll completely stop reading white/cishet/able authors, but they don’t need me to promote their books for them. Marginalized authors could use every person reading their books to talk about them, and that is what I am going to do.

Long story short- you’ll be looking exclusively at own voices and diverse content on here, starting now. It’s going to get loud here, and I hope you’ll stay with me for the ride.

September 12th, 2016: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme currently hosted by The Book Date. It’s a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week, and add to that ever-growing TBR stack.

Holy hellcats we’re now in the middle of September! U.N.B.E.L.I.E.V.A.B.L.E. Someone please tell me which black hole is sucking in all our time because I do not get it.

Books, books. Let’s see, it’s DiverseAThon week!

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Following the shit show with Certain White Author on Twitter, followed by Certain Racist Trash video on Youtube, a group of booktubers got together to create a weeklong readathon focused on diversity in publishing and celebrating own voices. Needless to say, I am stoked. Especially after the last book I read by a white dude with the whole teacher-seduced-by-student narrative that turned out to be based on his own life and experiences with a former student. Gah, men. Anyway, I’m here for this celebration and happy to dive into the glory of some great books by own voices.

On the roster:

Ooh, also, there’s no sign-ups on anything, so feel free to join in using the hashtag #diverseathon. There’s also a bunch of twitter chats that will be happening over the course of the week, scheduled as follows:

 

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Also, I might be getting on a plane  in a few hours, if the airline issues me a boarding pass- there’s some weird regulations with visas and such (as is my life), to visit some relatives with my parents for a few (Not-so-secretly hoping they don’t let me board because that means four days alone at home with all of the books). 

Meanwhile, I’m finally on Litsy! IT’S SO MUCH FUN YOU GUYS I LOVE IT SO MUCH. If you’re on there, I’m @theshrinkette on there. YAY BOOKS!

More later,

-J