Over the last 2 days I’ve had a cold. And when I have a cold, I am the most pathetic, whiny crybaby. I’ve been especially whiny and pathetic because between congestion and headache and a 4 year old who likes to climb in our bed at 3 am, I haven’t been sleeping much. Since I couldn’t sleep, I picked up a book. And in 2 nights, I breezed through Jesmyn Ward’s Men We Reaped. Ward spoke in Pittsburgh just a couple months ago with the Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures series, and now I’m just kicking myself that I did not go to the lecture.
Ward’s memoir is framed around the 5 tragic deaths of young men she grew up with, including her brother. I am having so much trouble describing it, because she confronts massive issues of race, racism and poverty, as well as individual struggles of grief and loneliness. Men We Reaped is tragic and gorgeous.