Rummanah Aasi
 As I mentioned in a previous post, I have a hard time finding an adult book that I actually enjoy to read. I had asked one of the librarians at my local public library for some suggestions. She of coursed asked me what was the last good book I read. I had promptly replied The Help by Kathryn Stockett (a great book, by the way, if you haven't read it yet). She then directed me to Mudbound by Hiliary Jordan, what she thought was a read-alike to The Help. The two books do have similarities, but I didn't like Mudbound as much or more than The Help.

Description: It's 1946 in the Mississippi Delta, where Laura McAllan is struggling to adjust to farm life, raise her daughters, and be the wife her land-loving husband, Henry, wants her to be. It is an uphill battle every day. To make things worse, Henry's father, Pappy, an old, rude, misogynous, and racist man moves in them. The heart of the story, however, is the friendship between Jamie, Henry's too-charming brother, and Ronsel Jackson, an African American man who is the son of the sharecroppers that live on the McAllan farm. Both return and are forever changed by World War II. Told in alternating chapters by Laura, Henry, Jamie, Ronsel, and his parents, Florence and Hap, the story of forbidden love, murder, and betrayal unfolds with a chilling inevitability.

Review:  As I mentioned earlier, Mudbound does have similarities with The Help: both take place in the South and are told in multiple perspectives, but that's about it. In The Help, I was able to connect to the their main narratives in the story, sympathize when they struggled, and cheered for them when they were victorious. I had the opposite effect when I read Mudbound. I thought the characters could have been introduced better. My main problem is that I really didn't care much for the characters except Ronsel. Laura is a self involved wife who refuses to grow a spine and stand up to her husband. Henry is the stereotypical absent minded husband who only cares what other people think of him. Jamie is suppose to be charming and likeable, but I thought he was weak and passive. I absolutely hated Pappy.
    In terms of the story, the tagline of a "forbidden love, murder, and betrayal" are somewhat misleading and does not occur until the second half of the book. When those events did happen, I wasn't shocked or effected by any means. I saw everything happen before it unfolded. Mudbound is a well written novel that had the potential of being a more powerful book if only the characters were more alive. The book contains classic and powerful themes: racism, traditional values, freedom, and identity, however, I felt it got lost in the shuffle of the multi-narrative structure of the book. This book is definitely not in my top 10 books of this year, but I would still recommend it.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong language and sexual situations throughout the novel. There is also a particularly violent scene as well, but much of the violence does take off stage (thank goodness).

If you like this book, try: The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng
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