When I received Jesmyn Ward’s “Men We Reaped: A Memoir,” I’ll be quite honest and say I was a little hesitant about reading it. When I think memoir, I’m a little taken-aback by those in their 30’s writing about their lives. Ward’s book sat on my nightstand for weeks, along with several other books I intend to read. It wasn’t until this weekend, that I decided to give it a go.
For those unfamiliar with Ward, she’s a former Stegner fellow at Stanford and Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi. Her previous novels, Where the Line Bleeds and Salvage the Bones, are two books that I couldn’t put down, and have read them both twice.
“Men We Reaped” is a coming of age story set in Ward’s hometown of DeLisle, Mississippi. She tells the story of five men in her life, their deaths and how they impacted her. Ward also writes about growing up in poverty in rural Mississippi. As to not give any spoilers away, because I hate book spoilers more than movie spoilers, “Men We Reaped” is a heartbreaking tale of survival and beating the system, as Ward has done.
This memoir will definitely sit besides some of the best I’ve read.