Men We Reaped

Men We Reaped

A Memoir

Book - 2014
Average Rating:
Rate this:
12

Named one of the Best Books of the Century by New York Magazine

Two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward ( Salvage the Bones, Sing, Unburied, Sing ) contends with the deaths of five young men dear to her, and the risk of being a black man in the rural South.

"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 Ward's memoir will sit comfortably alongside Edwidge Danticat's Brother, I'm Dying , Tobias Wolff's This Boy's Life , and Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Publisher: New York :, Bloomsbury,, 2014
ISBN: 9781608197651
1608197654
Branch Call Number: 813.6 W21302ya 2014
Characteristics: 260 pages ; 21 cm

Opinion

From the critics


Community Activity

Comment

Add a Comment
OPL_AnnaW Dec 20, 2019

Ward shares the stories of young men in her life who have died too soon. Powerful and important, this book will open your eyes to the black male experience in America today.

k
kawidman
Dec 05, 2019

The book is made up of two timelines going in opposite directions and meeting in the middle. Written in alternating sections, one timeline proceeds in a fairly straightforward memoir style through Ward’s early life, while the other works backward through a time in her life in which five young men in her life died in quick succession. The timelines meet in the middle, and Ward’s skill is evident simply in the fact that the structure isn’t confusing. Instead, the two timelines contextualize and reinforce each other, supported by the vivid imagery and lyrical sentences. Ward’s account of growing up poor, Black, and Southern is haunting, as she takes the reader deep with her into both her connection with place and community and into her grief.

l
lukasevansherman
Mar 26, 2019

". . .and when we came to get in the crops, it was dead men that we reaped."-Harriet Tubman
A powerful, searching, and emotionally raw memoir from the author of "Salvage the Bones" and "Sing, Unburied, Sing."

t
tdixon18
May 23, 2018

Avail at NKC

PimaLib_HollyS Dec 27, 2017

From two time National Book Award winning author Jesmyn Ward comes a piercing and eloquent reflection of her poverty-stricken childhood in rural Mississippi. Alongside Ward's personal narrative, the book offers a broader exploration of the social conditions that have impacted and continue to impact poor and working class African Americas in the south. Equally heartfelt and heartbreaking, I devoured this powerful book. Ward's perspective offers much food for thought and provides a good launching point for discussion and introspection. I look forward to reading her novels.

l
libraryjerri
Jun 01, 2015

My heart is close to Jesmyn Ward's struggle in too many ways to list here. We need to bring good manufacturing jobs back to this country to improve the lively hood of all people in this country, but especially the working poor whose only chance at a job are minimum wage jobs that won't provide for a persons needs much less a family's. Every person deserves to feel a sense of dignity. I only hope that Jesmyn will find God in her life to give her hope. Excellent story of black America today that I feel is representative of most poor black people in this country.

ArielaMigdal Dec 17, 2014

This is a devastating and beautiful book, showing how racism and poverty create loss.

l
Liber_vermis
Oct 03, 2014

Jesmyn Ward was interviewed by Eleanor Wachtel on the CBC Radio program "Writers & Company" on September 28, 2014. To listen to the hour-long interview, go to this program's web site, and browse for the episode date.

m
Madreley
Feb 25, 2014

Thought the book was way over rated. It is slow moving and just not that interesting, sorry. I actually stopped reading about half way through the book. However, if you are from the deep south I could see how you may relate with a lot of the things the author writes about leading up to the death of her friends.

h
hdavidfrancis
Feb 20, 2014

An original voice; disciplined and powerful. --David

View All Comments

Age

Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.

Summary

Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.

Notices

Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Quotes

Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Recommendations

Subject Headings

  Loading...

Find it at TCCL

  Loading...
[]
[]
To Top