In 1946, Henry McAllen moves his city-bred wife Laura, their two girls and his crotchety father Pappy to the farm he purchased on the Mississippi Delta. Laura is shocked to find she must learn to live in a shack with only an outhouse and no running water. Henry names his farm Fair Fields, but the name Laura jokingly calls it, Mudbound, is the name that sticks. While Henry loves the land and making things grow, Laura tries her best not to hate it. When Henry’s troubled younger brother, Jamie, comes back from the war, Pappy sees him as another victim to torment, but Laura sees him as someone who understands her and considers her feelings.
Hap and Florence Jackson are sharecroppers on Henry’s farm. Their son, Ronsel, returns from the war a decorated hero, but with troubles of his own. Jamie and Ronsel form a tenuous friendship which is regarded with hatred and suspicion by Pappy and some unruly members of this Jim Crow community.
Hillary Jordan’s beautifully rendered debut novel received the Bellwether Prize for Fiction. This poignant tale of love and hate, violence and forgiveness in the Mississippi Delta country highlights the chaos and confusion of the times. Ms. Jordan narrates her story through the voices of her characters. Each character paints a portion of the picture, but it takes their blended voices to tell the whole. This outstanding, deeply moving story comes highly recommended.