Michael's Reviews > Men We Reaped

Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward
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really liked it
bookshelves: 2018

My review, as well as my other thoughts on reading, can be found on my blog.

Meditative and moving, Jesmyn Ward's memoir places personal tragedy against the backdrop of systemic racism and poverty. Ward alternates between recounting her childhood in rural Mississippi and sketching biographies of five young Black men she intimately knew, all who died within the span of four years. Each chapter consists of a series of loosely connected vignettes, written in plain but powerful prose. The book's associative structure and accessible language would make it a swift read, were it not for the pain of the stories Ward tells. Overdose, murder, suicide, and a pair of fatal accidents are juxtaposed against the hardships Ward herself faced as a working-class girl growing up in a virulently anti-Black state. The memoir isn't without some flaws, as several have noted; at times it moves too quickly, and the author could have far more explicitly tied the deaths of her loved ones to the poisonous effects of white supremacy in America. But Ward's grasp on narrative is astounding, her descriptions memorable, and her observations on the social life of the South astute.
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Reading Progress

May 10, 2018 – Shelved
May 10, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
Started Reading
September 26, 2018 – Shelved as: 2018
September 26, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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message 1: by Paula (new)

Paula Kalin Superb review, Michael!

Michael Thanks, Paula!

message 3: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue Nice review, Michael. I found Sing Unburied Sing to be an unbelievable read and I would like to see some of her earlier writing. This has been on my list for a while.

Michael Thanks, Sue! This seems like it'd be a good place to begin with her earlier work: it's written in a very engaging style, in spite of how heavy the subject matter is.

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