Men We Reaped

By Jesmyn Ward,

Book cover of Men We Reaped: A Memoir

Book description

_______________ 'A brutal, moving memoir ... Anyone who emerges from America's black working-class youth with words as fine as Ward's deserves a hearing' - Guardian 'Raw, beautiful and dangerous' - New York Times Book Review 'Lavishly endowed with literary craft and hard-earned wisdom' - Time _______________ The beautiful, haunting memoir…

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Why read it?

5 authors picked Men We Reaped as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Men We Reaped blew me away.

Not only does Ward provide an incredibly personal and achingly beautiful glimpse of a culture I was unfamiliar with—a rural, impoverished Black community in the Deep South—but she does so with an innovative structure that simply dazzled me.

One strand of the book opens at the beginning of Ward’s life, while the other strand picks up at the end of her tale, with the most recent of five harrowing deaths due to gun violence that she and her community have endured. Each part of the story then alternately proceeds toward the same point, forwards…

Three years ago, a close friend and I formed a two-person book club. We read a memoir per month for one year. Men We Reaped was my favorite. In the space of four years, the author loses five beloved boys/men in her life, including her own brother. Men we reaped. Like a crop that’s been over-harvested, “[t]hese young men died because of who they were and the place they were from, because certain disadvantages breed a certain kind of bad luck.” Ward brings each young man to life so successfully, that readers mourn when each is gone. In writing…

From Melanie's list on inhabiting unthinkable loss.

Ward’s memoir examines the untimely losses of five young men in her life in the span of four years. The book is a stunning, sobering meditation on the impact of trans-generational mourning on the present moment, and the ways in which the cumulative grief of a community relates to decades-worth of institutional bigotry in the U.S. In one of the book’s many wrenching scenes, Ward, as a young woman, observes her mother cleaning the mansion of a rich white family. The wife—her mother’s employer—asks Ward about what she’s learning in school, as “the family’s parrot… kept in a four-foot-high cage…

Home is personal. It can vary greatly even among people in the same family. Men We Reaped is not just the story of one community and family, it also serves as a bridge to readers seeking to place their own legacy into perspective while trying to determine what they may bring to the ongoing story.

From Athena's list on for growing up and finding your voice.

Jesmyn Ward writes lucidly about losing five men in her life in five years. Their deaths force her to confront the reality that they all died because they lived in fear of the racism and poverty that smothers Black families and relationships.

From Vivian's list on Black family life in America.

Want books like Men We Reaped?

Our community of 9,000+ authors has personally recommended 93 books like Men We Reaped.

Browse books like Men We Reaped

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in African-American men, Mississippi, and rural poverty?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about African-American men, Mississippi, and rural poverty.

African-American Men Explore 27 books about African-American men
Mississippi Explore 68 books about Mississippi
Rural Poverty Explore 7 books about rural poverty