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Men We Reaped (2013)

by Jesmyn Ward

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7923820,512 (4.22)127
A memoir that examines rural poverty and the lingering strains of racism in the South by the author of Salvage the bones.



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Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
As a big sister, this resonated deeply. Extremely powerful. ( )
  nsol | Dec 21, 2020 |
I sobbed while reading the last chapter. Full-on ugly cry, eyes overflowing and throat burning. It was painful to read, but the story needed to be told. I get it. This was necessary.

This story, her story, the men she reaped, are our stories. The people and places, everyone, their situations and motivations were familiar. This is brutally honest account on what it is like to be the perpetual other regardless of the social construct. It's incredibly tragic and sad, almost too much to bear, to really wrap your mind around on all of the many ways life seems to conspire against you once you begin to absorb all of society's constant messages of inherent worthlessness or insignificance. Everyone does this in many different ways, and death may not bring any relief. Especially for those who continue to live on. It appears that life rolls on, appearing as business as usual--the way things are supposed to be--but it's not.

All lives have meaning, when we a here and especially when we are gone, and there is nothing worthless, sad, tragic or insignificant about that. ( )
  nfulks32 | Jul 17, 2020 |
I've thought about this book every day since a read it a few weeks ago. I love her writing style so much, and her memoir is so honest and personal, without much of the sociological speculating that I expected, but in the end was glad to find little of. The way the story was organized was a little bit confusing, which was why I took off a star, but the chapters about the men she knew who died were perfect little vignettes of young lives lost. ( )
  nancyjean19 | Jun 3, 2020 |
Beautifully written and deeply sad. ( )
  a-shelf-apart | Nov 19, 2019 |
This year I have read a great deal about what it means to be Black in a nation designed to advance the interests of White people. This was not by design. Certainly it is an area of interest for me, personal and professional, and the brutal costs of endemic racism have been thrown into stark relief over the past 5 years. The primary reason though for this immersion is that there have been a whole lot of great books published in the past few years whose authors have made themselves vulnerable, who have endured the pain of remembering unimaginable trauma, to tell their story and the stories of others in the Black community that get heard too infrequently by people outside that community. I am grateful. I owe a debt to these writers, to Kiese Laymon, to Anita Heiss (who wrote about this from an indigenous Australian perspective, which widened my lens), Robin DiAngelo, Angie Thomas, Eric Michael Dyson, Candice Carty-Williams, and now Jesmyn Ward.

Ward tells her story through tales of 4 young Black men she grew up with in Mississippi, all of whom died very young. They died in different ways, but all in ways that connect back to the devaluation of Black life, and the limitations placed on the dreams and goals available to the dead men in their lifetimes. The story of these men is also the story of the women who loved them, who raised them, who bore their children. Its is a story about the pain and exhaustion, physical and emotional, of those women and children left to just put down their heads and get things done. Its a story I have not heard well told, and it helped me to understand some things I had not understood before about the definition of fatherhood and the expectations placed on girls and boys nearly from birth in many communities. We need to understand the roots of a problem to make changes. The roots are exposed here, and once again the roots are strangled by systemic racism, by the ways in which we see Whiteness as the default "normal" and view success for Black people by their ability to act white, seem white. be white also-rans. Its appalling that this is still true. White folks need to get off our asses to start to change that. Ward is a beautiful writer, and her tributes do honor to the young men lost, but this book really comes together in the last chapter where she goes to the social science. I wish there had been more of that. I wanted the personal stories, but I wanted to understand them in a broader context. We need to be having a conversation about the epidemiology of racism and other types of oppression and the harm it causes. This book, the stories and the social science are a great start. ( )
  Narshkite | Sep 19, 2019 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ward, Jesmynprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boothe, CheriseNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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“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

Young adolescents in our prime live a life of crime, though it ain't logical, we hobble through these trying times. Living blind: Lord, help me with my troubled soul. Why all my homies had to die before they got to grow? -from "Words 2 My Firstborn," Tupac Shakur

I stand on the stump of a child, whether myself or my little brother who died, and yell as far as I can, I cannot leave this place, for for me it is the dearest and the worst, it is life nearest to life which is life lost: it is my place where I must stand.... -from "Easter Morning," A.R. Ammons
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Whenever my mother drove us from coastal Mississippi to New Orleans to visit my father on the weekend, she would say, "Lock the doors."
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A memoir that examines rural poverty and the lingering strains of racism in the South by the author of Salvage the bones.

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