The title only comes clear in the last few paragraphs of the book. The journey to the singing of the unburied is painful and tender all at once. A story of three generations of bayou people living in an enchanted, haunted world. Told from the points of view of thirteen year old Jojo, his mother Leonie, and the ghost of a boy of about Jojo’s age, Richie, who was in Parchman Farm prison with Jojo’s grandfather many years ago. Each has their own experience of love, dependency and the loyalty that may or may not go with love.
The largest part of the book concerns an ill-advised road trip that Leonie and her children take to pick up their father newly released from prison. Things fall apart in so many ways and Jojo learns the hard lesson that he can’t pick them all up and put them back together. For the first part of the book you want to hate Leonie for the things that she does. But in the end you can’t hate her. You can only pity her and the understand why she does the things that she does. A trick pulled off by Jessamyn Ward that I would not have thought possible.
* the dead carry their own burdens and sometimes they try to lay them on the living *