Picks and Pans Review: Mudbound

updated 03/10/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 03/10/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Hillary Jordan|

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CRITIC'S CHOICE

FICTION

In this supremely readable debut novel set in 1940s Mississippi, the lives of the white McAllan clan become unhappily enmeshed with those of the hardworking Jacksons, the "colored tenants" on their farm. Both families have sons who were war heroes (though Ronsel Jackson is given none of the respect lavished on the dissolute Jamie McAllan), and both are touched by violent racism. But passionate love, when it crops up, brings complications for all concerned. Fluidly narrated by engaging characters—including Laura McAllan, a city-bred farm wife, and Hap Jackson, a preacher—Mudbound is packed with drama. Pick it up, then pass it on.

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