Sing, Unburied, Sing

by Jesmyn Ward

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What does Micheal do to the car before going to Parchman prison in Sing, Unburied, Sing?

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Sing, Unburied, Sing is about three generations of a family in rural Mississippi in the twenty-first century. Jojo is a thirteen-year-old boy who is trying to figure out what it means to be a man while his father is in prison and his mother lacks maternal nurturing. He is primarily raised by his maternal grandparents and takes on the responsibility of taking care of his toddler sister while his mother is not around.

Most of the plot involves a road trip in which Leonie, Jojo’s mom, packs up the kids and takes them to pick up Michael, Jojo’s father, from prison. Michael was sent to prison for manufacturing drugs. Before he was sent there, he placed a secret compartment in the car to hide drugs. Leonie and Misty use this compartment to store the meth that they pick up on their way to the prison.

When they leave prison, they not only pick up Michael, but they also pick up the ghost of a thirteen-year-old boy who died at the prison. All of the male influences in Jojo’s life—his absent father, his absent racist grandfather, the boy ghost, and his maternal grandfather whom he lives with—create confusion for him about what it means to be a man.

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