Author – Jesmyn Ward
Age – 15+
Jojo is 13 and lives with his grandparents, his drug addicted mother and his toddler sister, Kayla. Jojo’s father Michael is in prison for ‘cooking’ drug offences, so as Jojo’s grown, he has looked up to his steady, dependable, hardworking Pop on how to be a man.
Life is hard in their Deep South household, with Mam (Jojo’s grandmother) dying of cancer, his mother Leonie not being the mothering kind, and little Kayla dependent on him. Leonie is black, his father is white, and his father’s parents have never had anything to do with them.
When Leonie gets news that Jojo’s father has finished his sentence, she packs the kids in the car with her equally drug addicted friend Misty and they head to Parchment Farm – the state prison, to pick him up.
Jojo has heard tales of Parchment from his Pop. Tales of violence, death, working drudgery and a 12 year old boy called Richie. But Pop never finishes Richie’s story. It’s not until after their stressful, hot, uncomfortable journey to Parchment and back that Jojo learns the truth.
This is a teen/adult crossover, and winner of the US National Book Award 2017. The language is lyrical, almost literary, but it’s a gripping read about a black family in the deep south, set just after Hurricane Katrina. Prejudice and racism are still ruling and ruining lives, as families do their best to survive.
(Mississippi, Award Winner, Prejudice, Racism, Family, Neglect, Road Trip)