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Men We Reaped: A Memoir

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Men We Reaped: A Memoir Cover

ISBN13: 9781608195213
ISBN10: 160819521x
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

“We saw the lightning and that was the guns; and then we heard the thunder and that was the big guns; and then we heard the rain falling and that was the blood falling; and when we came to get in the crops, it was dead men that we reaped.” —Harriet Tubman

In five years, Jesmyn Ward lost five young men in her life — to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men. Dealing with these losses, one after another, made Jesmyn ask the question: Why? And as she began to write about the experience of living through all the dying, she realized the truth — and it took her breath away. Her brother and her friends all died because of who they were and where they were from, because they lived with a history of racism and economic struggle that fostered drug addiction and the dissolution of family and relationships. Jesmyn says the answer was so obvious she felt stupid for not seeing it. But it nagged at her until she knew she had to write about her community, to write their stories and her own.

Jesmyn grew up in poverty in rural Mississippi. She writes powerfully about the pressures this brings, on the men who can do no right and the women who stand in for family in a society where the men are often absent. She bravely tells her story, revisiting the agonizing losses of her only brother and her friends. As the sole member of her family to leave home and pursue higher education, she writes about this parallel American universe with the objectivity distance provides and the intimacy of utter familiarity. A brutal world rendered beautifully, Jesmyn Wards memoir will sit comfortably alongside Edwidge Danticat's Brother, I'm Dying, Tobias Wolff's This Boys Life, and Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Review:

"In this riveting memoir of the ghosts that haunt her hometown in Mississippi, two-time novelist and National Book Award-winner Ward (Salvage the Bones) writes intimately about the pall of blighted opportunity, lack of education, and circular poverty that hangs over the young, vulnerable African-American inhabitants of DeLisle, Miss., who are reminiscent of the characters in Ward's fictionalized Bois Sauvage. The five young black men featured here are the author's dear friends and her younger brother, whose deaths between 2000 and 2004 were 'seemingly unrelated,' but all linked to drug and alcohol abuse, depression, and a general 'lack of trust' in the ability of society — and, ultimately, family and friends — to nurture them. The first to die (though his story is told last in the book) was her brother, Joshua, a handsome man who didn't do as well in school as Ward and was stuck back home, doing odd jobs while his sister attended Stanford and later moved to N.Y.C. Joshua died senselessly after being struck by a drunk driver on a dark coastal road one night. The 'wolf' that tracked all of these young men — and the author, too, when she experienced the isolation of being black at predominantly white schools — was the sense of how little their lives mattered. Ward beautifully incorporates the pain and guilt woven her and her brother's lives by the absence and failure of their father, forcing their mother to work as a housekeeper to keep the family afloat. Ward has a soft touch, making these stories heartbreakingly real through vivid portrayal and dialogue. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Review:

"An assured yet scarifying memoir by young, supremely gifted novelist [Jesmyn] Ward....With more gumption than many, Ward battled not only the indifferent odds of rural poverty, but also the endless racism of her classmates....A modern rejoinder to Black Like Me, Beloved and other stories of struggle and redemption — beautifully written, if sometimes too sad to bear." Kirkus Reviews

Synopsis:

A memoir that examines rural poverty and the lingering strains of racism in the south by the prize-winning author of Salvage the Bones.

About the Author

Jesmyn Ward grew up in DeLisle, Mississippi. She received her MFA from the Univ. of Michigan and has been a Stegner Fellow at Stanford and a Grisham Visiting Writer in Residence at the Univ. of Mississippi. She is currently an assistant professor of creative writing at the Univ. of South Alabama. She is the author of the novels Where the Line Bleeds and Salvage the Bones, for which she won the 2011 National Book Award, and was a finalist for the NYPL Young Lions Literary Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, as well as a nominee for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

fahmi, November 8, 2013 (view all comments by fahmi)
Men We Reaped is one of the rare non-fiction books that seems destined to be a literary classic. National Book Award Winner Jesmyn Ward intertwines the story of her life growing up poor and Black in rural coastal Mississippi with the lives of five young men ��" including her brother ��" who died within a two year span soon after she finished college. Ward writes with fire and passion as she captures the day-to-day and systemic injustices that she and her family faced and the struggles they went through. What’s also clear is the deep love and roots that tie her to the people and place where she was raised. This book will break your heart, make you think, and get you angry ��" all at once. In the vein of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, this is memoir at its finest.
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Silvers Reviews, August 23, 2013 (view all comments by Silvers Reviews)
MEN WE REAPED is very well written and in a style that feels as if the author is right there with you having a conversation. The prose is beautiful, and the descriptions are vivid and make the scenes come alive.

The author revealed her life very eloquently even though her life growing up wasn't very eloquent. Jesymn had to suffer through a premature birth, a father who wasn't true to her mother, a dog mauling, poverty, drugs, drinking, and deaths of loved ones.

The book was enlightening as well as heartbreaking to hear the narration of her life and her family's struggles.

I normally do not read memoirs, but I am glad I read this book. It is an eye opener. Thanks for writing this book, Ms. Ward.

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781608195213
Subtitle:
A Memoir
Author:
Ward, Jesmyn
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Subject:
General
Subject:
Sociology - General
Subject:
Biography - General
Publication Date:
20130917
Binding:
Hardback
Language:
English
Pages:
272
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in 1 lb

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Men We Reaped: A Memoir New Hardcover
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Product details 272 pages Bloomsbury USA - English 9781608195213 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In this riveting memoir of the ghosts that haunt her hometown in Mississippi, two-time novelist and National Book Award-winner Ward (Salvage the Bones) writes intimately about the pall of blighted opportunity, lack of education, and circular poverty that hangs over the young, vulnerable African-American inhabitants of DeLisle, Miss., who are reminiscent of the characters in Ward's fictionalized Bois Sauvage. The five young black men featured here are the author's dear friends and her younger brother, whose deaths between 2000 and 2004 were 'seemingly unrelated,' but all linked to drug and alcohol abuse, depression, and a general 'lack of trust' in the ability of society — and, ultimately, family and friends — to nurture them. The first to die (though his story is told last in the book) was her brother, Joshua, a handsome man who didn't do as well in school as Ward and was stuck back home, doing odd jobs while his sister attended Stanford and later moved to N.Y.C. Joshua died senselessly after being struck by a drunk driver on a dark coastal road one night. The 'wolf' that tracked all of these young men — and the author, too, when she experienced the isolation of being black at predominantly white schools — was the sense of how little their lives mattered. Ward beautifully incorporates the pain and guilt woven her and her brother's lives by the absence and failure of their father, forcing their mother to work as a housekeeper to keep the family afloat. Ward has a soft touch, making these stories heartbreakingly real through vivid portrayal and dialogue. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "An assured yet scarifying memoir by young, supremely gifted novelist [Jesmyn] Ward....With more gumption than many, Ward battled not only the indifferent odds of rural poverty, but also the endless racism of her classmates....A modern rejoinder to Black Like Me, Beloved and other stories of struggle and redemption — beautifully written, if sometimes too sad to bear."
"Synopsis" by ,
A memoir that examines rural poverty and the lingering strains of racism in the south by the prize-winning author of Salvage the Bones.
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