Published by Agate Bolden on November 1st 2008
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Christophe and Joshua are twin brothers living in Bois Sauvage, along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. At the beginning of the book they are preparing to graduate from high school. They are living with their Ma-Mee (Maternal Grandmother) who has raised them since they were children. Their Mother floats in and out of their lives but Ma-Mee is their constant. Upon graduation, the brothers attempt to find jobs while getting high, flirting with girls, getting their hair braided and playing basketball. Their bond is a close one. They can communicate without saying a word and share a combined concern over their grandmother’s failing eyesight and health.
When Joshua is hired as a dock laborer, Christophe starts to sell drugs as a means of having income and to help support his family. Joshua is not happy about Christophe’s actions and Christophe is secretly jealous of his brother’s job, the reader begins to see tiny cracks in their relationship. Then their absentee drug addicted father shows up, things get worse for the two brothers as a confrontation takes place that can/will change their lives forever.
I first became acquainted with Jesmyn Ward when I read “Sing, Unburied, Sing” I loved her ability to weave words that sounded poetic and powerful. This is her debut book and although, I enjoyed this book, I felt it was slow and dragged in sections. What works in this book is her ability to show familial love – the love of brothers, the love of two young men for their grandmother. The love a grandmother has for her grandchildren and her daughter. Ward is also good at showing poverty and showing how choices have consequences that can shape a life – and not always for the better.
Thank you to Scribner and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.