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Let Us Descend

Let Us Descend, by Jesmyn Ward

21/60 | Started 03.29.24 • Finished 04.06.24 | 3 stars

So, to be short, I heard a lot of great things about this book. And about Ward in general as a writer. But this just wasn't for me.

...and then all I can do is breathe, my grief-shattered muscles useless, able only to trip along.

The story is powerful - a slave caught up in a line of slaves being transported to New Orleans. It's long and hot and arduous and painful and cold and exhausting and inhuman. But Ward throws this other-worldly aspect into the narrative and I just didn't care for it. She sees an apparition of her mother and her grandmother and I think another being of some kind. I guess we see her wrestling with her ancestry and their pasts and how that enlightens her current situation and maybe even gives her some measure of hope, but honestly it fell flat for me.

I know what it means to lie down with despair, to sink with it.

I liked all the other parts (as much as you can "like" something with this subject matter), and her writing about the struggle and suffering of Annis's journey is haunting. But this one gets just three stars. I doubt I would recommend it to anyone but the right person, with caveats.

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