SOUTHERN GOTHIC LITERATURE:  “Jackson” is a fictional retelling of the Jackson State Massacre and the events leading up to it, as seen through the eyes of a 15 year old white girl, Jody Luther. Jody moves from small-town Texas with her mentally unstable mother and younger sister Willie, to Jackson, Mississippi, during the late 1960’s, when racial segregation was coming to an end, causing civil unrest from those who opposed the change. Jody’s mother doesn’t share the hatred of black people like many others do, a perspective she has shared with her daughters, which makes them different from most of their friends. Growing up in an unstable home forces Jody to take on adult responsibilities that many her age don’t have to deal with. 

Told entirely from the first-person perspective, Jackson is a somewhat triggering and emotional read. The author does a good job of conveying the level of racial hatred and tension that filled the Deep South during the time period. Her love of history is also apparent from the historical landmarks and figures she references throughout the book. The story comes across as narrative-like, as there seems to be an emotional disconnect between Jody and the story she is telling, almost as if it happened to someone else and is not currently happening to her. Overall, a fairly well told story of a tragic incident.

*Trigger Warning: this book contains racial slurs that will be offensive to some readers (although they are appropriate for the time period). It also contains a rape scene.*

Katy Nielsen