Quick Book Review: “Men We Reaped” by Jesmyn Ward

This author won the National Book Award in 2011 for her novel Salvage the Bones (which I have, but haven’t read yet).  Last year, I read her novel Sing, Unburied, Sing, and it was fabulous.  Men We Reaped is a memoir.  In this book she tells the stories, and tries to come to terms with, the deaths of five men in her life, deaths that occurred in a short (four year) period.  One victim was her brother; the others were friends, and the way they died – drugs, car accidents, suicide – all seem to be connected by common circumstance: lives beset by racism, economic hardship, and family instability. She paints a vivid picture of life in rural Mississippi and the pressure that poverty and lack of opportunity puts on men who can never seem to do right, and the desperation of the women who are ultimately responsible for keeping the family together.  The writing is smart and lucid, and the characters really come to life.  This author deserves all of the praise that she’s gotten, and I can’t wait to read Salvage the Bones. 

“Men We Reaped” by Jesmyn Ward

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