A Novel

Book - 2008
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Workman Press.
In Jordan's prize-winning debut, prejudice takes many forms, both subtle and brutal. It is 1946, and city-bred Laura McAllan is trying to raise her children on her husband's Mississippi Delta farm—a place she finds foreign and frightening. In the midst of the family's struggles, two young men return from the war to work the land. Jamie McAllan, Laura's brother-in-law, is everything her husband is not—charming, handsome, and haunted by his memories of combat. Ronsel Jackson, eldest son of the black sharecroppers who live on the McAllan farm, has come home with the shine of a war hero. But no matter his bravery in defense of his country, he is still considered less than a man in the Jim Crow South. It is the unlikely friendship of these brothers-in-arms that drives this powerful novel to its inexorable conclusion.

The men and women of each family relate their versions of events and we are drawn into their lives as they become players in a tragedy on the grandest scale. As Kingsolver says of Hillary Jordan, "Her characters walked straight out of 1940s Mississippi and into the part of my brain where sympathy and anger and love reside, leaving my heart racing. They are with me still."

Baker & Taylor
In 1946, Laura McAllan tries to adjust after moving with her husband and two children to an isolated cotton farm in the Mississipi Delta.

Blackwell North Amer
When Henry McAllan moves his city-bred wife, Laura, to a cotton farm in the Mississippi Delta in 1946, she finds herself in a place both foreign and frightening. Laura does not share Henry's love of rural life, and she struggles to raise their two young children in an isolated shotgun shack with no indoor plumbing or electricity, all the while 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 McAllans are being tested in every way, two celebrated soldiers of World War II return home to help work the farm. Jamie McAllan 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 sharecroppers who live on the McAllan 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 this debut novel. Mudbound reveals how everyone becomes a player in a tragedy on the grandest scale, even as they strive for love and honor.

Publisher: Chapel Hill, N.C. : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2008
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781565125698
Characteristics: 328 p. ; 23 cm


From Library Staff

Mary J. Blige - singer turned actress - is nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture. The story takes place in Mississippi after WWII.

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Oct 20, 2018

To say I thoroughly enjoyed this read is not quite right. It's an honest look at the injustice, the hate & discrimination toward people of color that still exists today in the USA. The beauty comes from the love in the telling this horrific story & of the dynamic family of color. Despite the number of times I read or hear a specific word description for another human, my gut twists & I'm filled with loathing for it. What is so striking again, is the men who gave their all to serve for a country that did not respect them, just as with the Japanese who served. What a fickle, hypocritical nation we live in. Twenty First century and what progress?

At the close of this book are four other suggested reads I'm curious about.

Oct 02, 2018

The story, told in the muddy South, was played well in the movie version; which reminded me I had purchased the paperback copy of Mudbound back in 2009, where it has remained on a shelf waiting to be read. This was the week my fingers reached for it to absorb what Hillary Jordan offered her audience and compare it to the movie version.

The characters are well written, and I doubt there would be anyone who doesn't hate Pappy, forgive Jamie for his flaws, expect nothing less from Henry, feel a quiet rage for the lives of the Jackson family, and find Laura a victim of her time and circumstance.

Every time I read a history of the segregated South I grow emotional and will never understand the once accepted ways of this dark chapter in American history.

The book version ends 'untold' when it comes to Ronsel, where the movie version finds him returning to Germany to Resl and their son Franz. I liked the second package with a bow as it gave me hope in humanity, tongue or no.

Dec 14, 2017

I 100% recommend reading this one! I absolutely loved how it takes you back info time.. the detail makes you feel like you're actually there at Mudbound. It deals with love, happiness, sadness and tragedy but I guess that's life right? Definitely a good read! Can't wait to watch the movie now!!

Nov 18, 2017

Beautiful writing and very powerful read. Now out as a Netflix movie too. Great adaptation as well.

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 03, 2016

Jordan does an admirable job of creating original and culturally significant characters. Through alternating voices, each fairly unique, Jordan offers a fresh look at an old—yet never trite—subject. While the social issues largely revolve around ethnicity, Jordan also addresses sexism, class division, war and the trauma from war. Against a well-painted landscape, the story of Mudbound unravels at a wonderful pace; when the climax drops, the reader feels as though he is living through the drama in real-time.

CMLibrary_sfetzer May 17, 2016

To say that Hillary Jordan’s debut novel is impressive would certainly be an understatement. Set after World War II in rural Mississippi, this novel follows Laura and Henry McAllen as they make their first foray into farming. Told from varying points of view including Laura, Henry’s war-hero brother Jamie, and the Jackson family who sharecrop on the McAllen’s land, Jordan spins a tragic tale that is difficult to put down. She manages to follow both the McAllen and Jackson families through their series of triumphs and sorrows as they struggle to survive on a farm that is constantly flooding and threatening to envelop them in mud. Any fan of family sagas, historical fiction, or just a good read will enjoy this novel.

Apr 22, 2015

please email me at when the book is available in San Bruno.

multcolib_susannel Apr 19, 2015

Brutality comes in many forms:
emotionally distant husband, cruel prejudice and bullying and the impersonal ruthlessness of nature. But kindness comes in many forms too, and when Jamie comes home a hero from WWII, Laura finds out just what they are.

Dec 22, 2013

Set just post WW2 in the rural south USA where racism is dominant and womens emancipation far off, this story is told in the voices of each character dominating the chapter. It's well written, depicting the thoughts and attitudes of the main characters with a sure hand and an empathy you can feel. It builds to a violent climax that leaves you shaken at the injustice of it and it's inevitability.

Nov 08, 2013

Great story of an ugly time in a grimy setting. The backdrop is great. The author makes you feel the grime of the landscape not only how it invades the dwellings but invades the characters. This was a quick, easy read since there aren't any fillers to take up pages just a terrific moving story. I'm not a fan of the speaker per chapter style but the author does make it work. The characters were real and I feel like everyone would know people like them. Thanks to the author for such an enjoyable read.

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Sep 12, 2008

Violence: This title contains Violence.


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