Men We Reaped

7 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 8½ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2014. ISBN 9781490609997. $77.75; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; digital download. MEMOIR
OrangeReviewStarA scorching journey through a heartbreaking Southern landscape, this memoir by National Book Award winner Ward (Salvage the Bones) is perfectly narrated by Cherise Booth, whose nuanced and understated performance allows the raw emotional content of the story to speak for itself. The deaths of five black men in Mississippi and Louisiana are recounted in a sort of reverse chronology, starting with the one who died last and moving back in time to the death of the author's younger brother. The author's own story never takes center stage as she talks about the potential and promise of these young men who were lost in various ways from suicide to accidents to murder, with all of the strife involving racial and social inequities endemic to the American South. Her recollections—sometimes of innocent youth, sometimes of adolescent misbehavior—take on an almost unbearable poignancy because the ends of these brief lives overshadow the occasional sweetness of her memories.
VERDICT A must for all libraries. ["Ward's candid account is full of sadness and hope that takes readers out of their comfort zone and proves that education and hard work are the way up for the young and downtrodden," read the review of the Bloomsbury hc, LJ 9/1/13.]
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