Excerpt from Mudbound by Hillary Jordan, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Mudbound

by Hillary Jordan

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan X
Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Mar 2008, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2009, 340 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Lucia Silva
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Then I felt the first drops of rain hit my face. “Henry!” I yelled.

The rain was falling lightly now, but before long it would be a downpour. The water would start filling up the hole. I’d feel it creeping up my legs to my thighs. To my chest. To my neck. “Henry! Laura!”

I threw myself at the walls of the grave like a maddened bear in a pit. Part of me was outside myself, shaking my head at my own foolishness, but the man was powerless to help the bear. It wasn’t the confinement; I’d spent hundreds of hours in cockpits with no problem at all. It was the water. During the war I’d avoided flying over the open ocean whenever I could, even if it meant facing flak from the ground. It was how I won all those medals for bravery: from being so scared of that vast, hungry blue that I drove straight into the thick of German antiaircraft fire.

I was yelling so hard I didn’t hear Henry until he was standing right over me. “I’m here, Jamie! I’m here!” he shouted. He lowered the ladder into the hole and I scrambled up it. He tried to take hold of my arm, but I waved him off. I bent over, my hands on my knees, trying to slow the tripping of my heart.

“You all right?” he asked.

I didn’t look at him, but I didn’t have to. I knew his forehead would be puckered and his mouth pursed?—?his “my brother, the lunatic” look.

“I thought maybe you’d decided to leave me down there,” I said, with a forced laugh.

“Why would I do that?”

“I’m just kidding, Henry.” I went and took up the ladder, tucking it under one arm. “Come on, let’s get this over with.” We hurried across the fields, stopping at the pump to wash the mud off our hands and faces, then headed to the barn to get the coffin. It was a sorry-looking thing, made of mismatched scrap wood, but it was the best we’d been able to do with the materials we had. Henry frowned as he picked up one end. “I wish to hell we’d been able to get to town,” he said.

“Me too,” I said, thinking of the whiskey.

We carried the coffin up onto the porch. When we went past the open window Laura called out, “You’ll want hot coffee and a change of clothes before we bury him.”

“No,” said Henry. “There’s no time. Storm’s coming.”

We took the coffin into the lean-to and set it on the rough plank floor. Henry lifted the sheet to look at our father’s face one last time. Pappy’s expression was tranquil. There was nothing to show that his death was anything other than the natural, timely passing of an old man.

I lifted the feet and Henry took the head. “Gently now,” he said.

“Right,” I said, “we wouldn’t want to hurt him.”

“That’s not the point,” Henry snapped.

“Sorry, brother. I’m just tired.”

With ludicrous care, we lowered the corpse into the coffin. Henry reached for the lid. “I’ll finish up here,” he said. “You go make sure Laura and the girls are ready.”

“All right.”

As I walked into the house I heard the hammer strike the first nail, a sweet and final sound. It made the children jump. “What’s that banging, Mama?” asked Amanda Leigh.

“That’s your daddy, nailing Pappy’s coffin shut,” Laura said.

“Will it make him mad?” Bella’s voice was a scared whisper.

Laura shot me a quick, fierce glance. “No, darling,” she said. “Pappy’s dead. He can’t get mad at anyone ever again. Now, let’s get you into your coats and boots. It’s time to lay your grandfather to rest.”

I was glad Henry wasn’t there to hear the satisfaction in her voice.

Excerpted from Mudbound by Hillary Jordan Copyright © 2008 by Hillary Jordan. Excerpted by permission of Algonquin Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Big Vape
    Big Vape
    by Jamie Ducharme
    In Big Vape, TIME reporter Jamie Ducharme studies the short but inflammatory history of Juul. Her ...
  • Book Jacket: Love and Fury
    Love and Fury
    by Samantha Silva
    Mary Wollstonecraft is best known for being an early advocate for women's rights and the mother of ...
  • Book Jacket: Walking on Cowrie Shells
    Walking on Cowrie Shells
    by Nana Nkweti
    The stories in Nana Nkweti's dexterous debut collection examine the raw alienation of being ...
  • Book Jacket: The Personal Librarian
    The Personal Librarian
    by Marie Benedict, Victoria Christopher Murray
    The Personal Librarian drew a robust positive response from our First Impressions reviewers, ...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The War Nurse
by Tracey Enerson Wood
A sweeping novel by an international bestselling author based on a true World War I story.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Personal Librarian
    by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

    The little-known story of an extraordinary woman who defies all odds.

  • Book Jacket

    Lady Sunshine
    by Amy Mason Doan

    One iconic family. One summer of secrets. The dazzling spirit of 1970s California.

Win This Book!
Win Gordo

Gordo by Jaime Cortez

"Dark and hilarious ... singular and soaring ... Hands down, top debut of 2021."—Literary Hub

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

N Say N

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.