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Men We Reaped
Men We Reaped: A Memoir | Jesmyn Ward
In this stirring and clear-eyed memoir, the 2011 National Book Award winner contends with the deaths of five young men dear to her, and the still great risk of being a black man in the rural South."We saw the lightning and that was the guns; and then we heard the thunder and that was the big guns; and then we heard the rain falling and that was the blood falling; and when we came to get in the crops, it was dead men that we reaped.?? -Harriet TubmanIn five years, Jesmyn Ward lost five young men in her life-to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men. Dealing with these losses, one after another, made Jesmyn ask the question: Why? And as she began to write about the experience of living through all the dying, she realized the truth-and it took her breath away. Her brother and her friends all died because of who they were and where they were from, because they lived with a history of racism and economic struggle that fostered drug addiction and the dissolution of family and relationships. Jesmyn says the answer was so obvious she felt stupid for not seeing it. But it nagged at her until she knew she had to write about her community, to write their stories and her own. Jesmyn grew up in poverty in rural Mississippi. She writes powerfully about the pressures this brings, on the men who can do no right and the women who stand in for family in a society where the men are often absent. She bravely tells her story, revisiting the agonizing losses of her only brother and her friends. As the sole member of her family to leave home and pursue higher education, she writes about this parallel American universe with the objectivity distance provides and the intimacy of utter familiarity. A brutal world rendered beautifully, Jesmyn Ward's memoir will sit comfortably alongside Edwidge Danticat's Brother, I'm Dying, Tobias Wolff's This Boy's Life, and Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
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staci.reads
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Pickpick

This memoir is beautiful, heartbreaking, thought-provoking, honest, & unsettling. Jesmyn Ward tells the story of her childhood while alternately telling of the 5 young men in her life that died in a 4-year period. She shares her experiences growing up poor & black in Mississippi and the ways gender, race, & socioeconomics interplay. I love her fiction (Salvage the Bones and Sing, Unburied Sing)so much, but now I know her nonfiction is as powerful.

Centique I thought this was excellent too - and I love her fiction so much 😍 May I say how pretty this background is? Look at your wonderful Santas! 1w
staci.reads @Centique Thank you! I've been collecting them since I got married and someone gifted us one. It's taken on a life of its own😁 2d
74 likes2 comments
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rmaclean4
Pickpick

Heartbreaking memoir of loss and the causes of that loss. At times a very difficult read. 3.5 🌟

11 likes1 comment
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ReadingEnvy
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Pickpick

After discussing Sing Unburied Sing with a group, some seemed to have more insight after reading Jesmyn Ward's memoir and made me want to read it too. It isn't easy going - chapters alternate between her life and the stories of five men in her family/community that died within a period of five years. Highly recommended for story and craft. Memoir 9 of #nonfictionnovember

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Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks
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#Memoir
#GratefulReads

I really need to get to this one!!

UnabridgedPod It‘s absolutely brilliant. 2mo
Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks @UnabridgedPod I think she is!! I‘ll read it next!! 2mo
OriginalCyn620 Haven‘t read anything by her yet! 2mo
See All 9 Comments
OriginalCyn620 I have that one @Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks! I should make it a point to get to it in 2020! 2mo
SamAnne I ended up reading all her books in one month! Last January. Love this memoir and her two novels. Difficult themes for sure. 2mo
Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks @SamAnne have you read ?? I have all of hers, but haven‘t read them yet!! 2mo
SamAnne @Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks I liked Sing, Unburied, Sing better than Salvage The Bones but liked both. Some@of my book club members did not like the latter due to the depictions of dog fighting, Trigger warning. But the novel is an honest portrayal of the community it is set in. 2mo
Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks @SamAnne I‘ve heard that... I loved Sing so I immediately bought all of her books!! 2mo
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Cinfhen
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Mehso-so

#NonfictionNovember There is no doubt that Jesmyn Ward is a talented writer & an important voice for our times. However, her memoir failed to move me the same way her fiction book Sing, Unburied Sing did. I‘m not sure if it was the choppy structure or detached tone but I always felt at arms length while reading. Her brutal childhood has certainly given her plenty of writing material. Im interested in picking up her essay collection next.

Kalalalatja I have seen some mixed reviews for this, which always surprises me because I loved Sing, Unburied, Sing. But based on your review, I get it more. I would have a tough time being fully engaged in a memoir with a detached tone 2mo
Hooked_on_books So I have a theory (watch out! 😆). I think Ward‘s tone could be described as matter of fact, which is something I have always responded well to, but I can see it coming across as cold and sterile. I just bailed on Inheritance, which I saw that you loved, because I found it overly dramatic. So my theory is that more nakedly emotional memoir works better for you while matter of fact ones work better for me. Based on my n of 2, of course. 😬 2mo
Cinfhen @Hooked_on_books nailed it!!!!!!! That makes a lot of sense 🙌🏻I LOVED 2mo
Centique @Hooked_on_books I think I might prefer detached too. I give up on lots of memoirs! End up reading biographies instead. I liked this one but it was more “interesting” than “compelling” for me. 2mo
Cinfhen Exactly @Centique big difference between compelling and interesting!! Good point❣️ 2mo
87 likes5 comments
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Hooked_on_books
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Pickpick

From 2000 to 2004, Jesmyn Ward lost 5 important young men in her life and community, including her brother. Here she weaves the stories of their lives and deaths between her own brutal childhood story. It‘s amazing that she survived. This is a tough read from which I had to take a lot of breaks. It‘s filled with heartbreak and tragedy but ultimately proves the author‘s resilience.

@Cinfhen

#ReadingUSA2019 #Mississippi

squirrelbrain Haven‘t heard of this one before - sounds like a good one, if rather tough. Stacked. 2mo
Cinfhen Just finished!! I had a different reading experience but agree that JW can write and she‘s a strong, inspiring voice for her generation 2mo
NatalieR Great review! 2mo
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Librarybelle Great review! 2mo
Hooked_on_books @Cinfhen I still haven‘t read her first novel, though I do have it. The essay collection she edited, The Fire This Time, is actually her most important book for me. It made me realize some of my thinking about race was flawed. And it‘s tremendous. 2mo
Hooked_on_books @NatalieR @Librarybelle Thanks you guys! ☺️ 2mo
Cinfhen I still want to read her essay collection! Thanks for the reminder and the impromptu BuddyRead 2mo
Hooked_on_books @Cinfhen Thanks to you, too! We should do it again sometime. Maybe we‘ll eventually find a book we agree on. 😂 2mo
Cinfhen 💕💕💕 2mo
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Cinfhen
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I fear this is going to be an #infinitetissueread 😭Good thing I‘m still reading a lighter book, because I‘m going to need to balance my emotions @Hooked_on_books

Hooked_on_books I‘m actually alternating back and forth with this fabulous book so I don‘t get buried in sadness: 2mo
RachelO This is wise. 💔 2mo
LibrarianRyan You a nd your pretty flowers! 2mo
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Hooked_on_books
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A quarter of the way in and Jesmyn‘s youth makes me think of the above quote. And I‘m struggling with the presence of dog fighting, which I find so terribly wrong.

I do love how she evokes a sense of place. You feel like you can see, feel, smell southern Mississippi.

Cinfhen I haven‘t gotten very far but I‘m already disturbed and I see the premise of both her novels Sing, Unburied Sing and this one that I haven‘t read yet (edited) 2mo
Hooked_on_books @Cinfhen Yes, for sure. I‘ve read both of those and her life experience has clearly informed her novels. I‘m impressed that she‘s able to write both fiction and non this well. Not all writers have her facility. 2mo
Cinfhen I‘m about 75% done/ I don‘t know why but this book seems a little cold & sterile. I‘m not drawn in like I am with her fiction 2mo
Hooked_on_books @Cinfhen That‘s interesting. I‘m close to the end—about to read the section about her brother—and I find it devastating. I think it‘s amazing she survived her childhood. Bummer you‘re not responding as much to it. But I had that issue with Vuong‘s novel that you loved. You just never know. 2mo
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Hooked_on_books
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I‘ve just finished the prologue and clearly this is going to be a really tough read. Imagine losing 5 young men close to you I‘m under four years. Then writing about it. This is my fourth by Ward and I have mad respect for this woman. #JWBuddyRead

Cinfhen I‘m preparing myself/ have tissues ready 2mo
megnews Very good and well-written 2mo
Addison_Reads I love her books, but I always have to make sure I have a lighter read to follow up with once I finish because her books leave me so emotionally raw. 2mo
Hooked_on_books @Addison_Reads As I move through it, that‘s exactly what I‘m thinking. Maybe a humor book next. This is marvelous, but it‘s a doozy. 2mo
44 likes4 comments
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UnabridgedPod
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Pickpick

I read Jesmyn Ward's Men We Reaped as part of my first #buddyread with @readwithtoni, and I really loved both the book and the discussion. (We have one more discussion to go, about the last third of the memoir.) I always appreciate how having to articulate my own feelings about a book clarifies it for me, adding depth to my understanding. Ward's memoir is certainly worth deep reading. (continued in comments)

UnabridgedPod She focuses here on loss: "From 2000 to 2004, five Black young men I grew up with died, all violently, in seemingly unrelated deaths" (7) and on seeking to understand the societal causes of the accumulation of these deaths. The book is as beautifully written as her fiction--I've loved all of her novels--but the knowledge that these deaths are real makes them resonate and helped me to understand ⬇️ 3mo
UnabridgedPod more deeply some of the trends running through her fiction. Ward is vulnerable and honest here, telling her story in alternating chapters. She provides a context of her own life and home, of the disintegration of her parents' marriage, and of her own strenghts and struggles in passages that move forward from her childhood. ⬇️ 3mo
UnabridgedPod In the other chapters, she moves backward, each section focusing on one of these deaths at the center of her book. This spiraling structure drew me deeper into her loss and pain, and I grew more desolate as she worked toward the final chapter with the loss that is the turning point of her life. This is a stunning and important work. 3mo
Linsy Love your lamp! 3mo
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UnabridgedPod
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I'm in one of those strange places where I have a lot of books in progress that I'll likely be reading for a while. Here's what's going on:⠀

📚 Jesmyn Ward's Men We Reaped - Reading this in October for my first ever #buddyread with @readwithtoni .⠀
📚 Ruth Ware's The Turn of the Key on @scribd - I'm *really* enjoying this on audio so far!⠀(continued in comments)

UnabridgedPod 📚 Daniel T. Willingham's Why Don't Students Like School?: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions about How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom - Reading this one (along with my entire school division) throughout this school year.⠀
📚 Stuart Gibbs's Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation - I'm reading this one aloud to my twelve year old (we love Stuart Gibbs!).⠀
4mo
UnabridgedPod 📚 Jeffrey Brown's Jedi Academy, Return of the Padawan and Michael Northrop and Gustavo Duarte's Dear Justice League - My nine year old and I are working on these two aloud (he tends to begin a LOT of books before finishing any--making this post has made me see where he gets it 😂 ).⠀

How often are you juggling multiple books? How do you feel about reading more than one book at a time?
4mo
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AnneCecilie
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Pickpick

I can‘t summarize this memoir any better than the blurb at the back.

And towards the end I was all: 💔😭

Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks I‘ve got to read this ❤️ 6mo
KaraWines Loved this book! 6mo
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AnneCecilie
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Jesmyn describing her love for reading

Texreader Nice 6mo
UwannaPublishme 😍👍🏻 6mo
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Mamashep
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I‘m already reading two books but decided I needed to check this out tonight. My eyes are always bigger than may “stomach” when it comes to books!

Nebklvr This is so good 6mo
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AnneCecilie
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AnneCecilie
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AnneCecilie
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I‘ve just started this, my second read for #MakeMeReadIt

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BeaG
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Pickpick

Loved this memoir. It was broken down into stories at different times of her life. They didn't go in order, but they had titles to let you know when and what it was addressing. Sad stories, but well written and thorough.

SamAnne Me too. I loved the structure of the book. 7mo
BeaG @SamAnne It read like a novel to me. I had forgotten it was a memoir. 7mo
KrisBrown I need to go back & finish this. 6mo
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Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks
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Total score at The Salvation Army for $2! I have most of these, but some of you don‘t!!

#LitsyLove

AmyG Nice!!! 7mo
tammysue You did good! 7mo
StillLookingForCarmenSanDiego Loved the bottom two books. 💖📚💖 7mo
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Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks @StillLookingForCarmenSanDiego they are on my tbr shelf 🤦🏼‍♀️ 7mo
UwannaPublishme 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻 7mo
106 likes7 comments
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bunny
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Pickpick

Finished this memoir a few days ago. It was my first time reading Jesmyn Ward, but her writing was so evocative that I'm interested to try some of her fiction in the future.

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sprainedbrain
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I had a good reading month in March!

18 books finished:

10 audiobooks (140+ hours)
8 ebooks/physical books (3183 pages)

10 challenge books
4 #1001books
11 books from #MtTBR

My favorites are the 4 in the lower right corner. 😃

MoonWitch94 The Lost Queen is on my list! I can‘t wait to get to it. 10mo
Eyelit Very good reading month!! 😁 10mo
StillLookingForCarmenSanDiego Nicely done! 📖💖 10mo
See All 7 Comments
SW-T Nice selection! You had a great reading month 😊 10mo
Reggie Omg, wow!!! Good job! 10mo
sprainedbrain @MoonWitch94 That‘s one of my favorite books of the year so far! ❤️ 10mo
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MelissaSue81
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Pickpick

Well I finished another audiobook, at least. This one took me awhile to really connect with, partially due the back and forth timeline..but in the end it was a solid pick. She is such a lyrical writer. I didn‘t know a memoir could be so beautifully written. Completely heartbreaking though. #readingwomenchallenge #bookbyjesmynward

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Centique
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Pickpick

It seemed appropriate that I was reading this book when we first heard about the massacre taking place in Christchurch. One a literal reaping, direct and visible in the sight of the world - the other that Jesmyn writes about, a gradual reaping, less acknowledged, at the conjunction of racism and class and poverty.
I know nothing about rural poverty in the US and this was illuminating, fascinating and heart breaking.

Dragon Stacking! 10mo
Suet624 This book was devastating. 10mo
MelleDelValle It is such a haunting read and I love the way it‘s written. 10mo
sprainedbrain Such a powerful book. 💔 10mo
Weaponxgirl This book felt so raw, it was amazing to read yet so 💔 10mo
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sprainedbrain
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Pickpick

I loved Salvage the Bones and Sing, Unburied, Sing. I‘m not a big fan of memoirs, but I read this for the ‘Book by Jesmyn Ward‘ prompt for #ReadingWomenChallenge, and wow. Heartbreaking, maddening recount of what it is to be black and poor in the south, dealing with the deaths of five young men in Ward‘s life. Her stories of her family, especially her mother, are raw and powerful, and the writing is beautiful and masterful.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

EmilyM I have this on my TBR pile...looking forward to it. I love Jesmyn Ward 10mo
sprainedbrain @EmilyM She is gifted! 10mo
Centique This is on a stack by my bed right now! I loved Salvage The Bones so much 💕 10mo
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TJReads
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Pickpick

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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rachelsbrittain
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Pickpick

A hard but important read about five young Black men in Jesmyn Ward's life who died within the span of four years. Ward explores the history of systemic racism and poverty in the South that contributed in various ways to those deaths, combining her lyrical prose with her life story in a memoir you won't soon forget. I came out of this book with a greater understanding of her other fiction as well and definitely recommend it.

Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks I‘ve got to move this one up! Great review ❤️ 12mo
rachelsbrittain @Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks thank you! It was on my kindle for ages, but I'm so glad I finally got around to reading it. Made me want to read more of her fiction too since I've only read Sing, Unburied, Sing 12mo
Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks @rachelsbrittain I have all of hers because I loved Sing so much, but haven‘t read them yet! I‘m terrible! I heard she has a new one coming out soon set in New Orleans! 12mo
Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks Do you live in the US? I have an extra copy of 12mo
rachelsbrittain @Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks ohhh I hadn't heard about that one yet!! I've been meaning to read more of her fiction ever since I read Sing so I completely understand that 😅 And yes I do live in the US! 12mo
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rachelsbrittain
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1. Men We Reaped, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life

2. Chai latté & Onyx Delight (espresso + honey + vanilla + cinnamon + milk) from Onyx Coffee Lab 😍

3. Chai latté (which I'm drinking right now)

#weekendreads

(With all the snow and rain going on, I felt like this was an appropriate way to start off the weekendreads hashtag)

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rachelsbrittain
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Friday night plans

TheReadingMermaid Love it 💖 12mo
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andioop
Pickpick

-

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8little_paws
Pickpick

An excellent memoir I let sit on my shelf unread for far too long. Ward examines her upbringing, both in her immediate family and in the greater context of Mississippi, and ties that to the deaths of 5 men she grew up with, including her brother. It's both an examination of her community and our country, and an unpacking of her feelings of grief. Very eloquent.

Riveted_Reader_Melissa Yes! Same boat here..I meant to start it so many times, but I knew it would be tough so I put it off. I need to make the time and soon. 13mo
8little_paws @Riveted_Reader_Melissa I've been trying hard the past 6 months to finally make a true dent in my backlist. It's been well worth the effort! But balancing that with new books via botm and library. 13mo
Riveted_Reader_Melissa @8little_paws That‘s always the hard part. That was my goal to this year, and least 50% from my own backlog stacks...I definitely did not make it, but I‘ll keep trying. 13mo
8little_paws @Riveted_Reader_Melissa it was moving that did it for me. I can't justify moving these books, unread, another time! 13mo
Riveted_Reader_Melissa @8little_paws That would definitely do it! I found out of a bunch I did read, I donated them to the local library sale then...so it did help clean out shelf space a bit. 13mo
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ScorpioBookDreams
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I borrowed this book from the library as part of my non-fiction challenge. It was a thought-provoking and brutally honest read. You should definitely try it if you haven‘t read it yet.

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AnneCecilie
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Book nr 8

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Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks
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#FemaleAuthor
ReadingResolutions

One of my favorite female authors also from Mississippi!!

Reviewsbylola Gorgeous stack. 😍 2y
Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks @Reviewsbylola thank you!! 📚💕 2y
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Katiejireh
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Bailedbailed

Read this for my book club and we collectively did not enjoy the book. The characters were under developed and the stories of these men lacked fluidity. Also, it didn‘t really convey the full impact of these significant losses to her.

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Cinfhen
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#FierceFeb I went for a lyrical reference
🎶I might date another race or color
Doesn't mean I don't like my strong black brothers
Why oh why must it be this way
Before you can read me you gotta learn how to see me
#FreeyourMind and the rest will follow
Be color blind, don‘t be so shallow 🎶
Thanks for the empowering month @batsy 💪🏼🙏🏻❤️
Tomorrow we #MarchIntoOz @Lizpixie 😍😎🤘🏼

batsy Thank you for a great month 💜 Fab pick, love the graphics 🙌🏽 Jesmyn Ward is high on my TBR! 2y
RachelO This book was so good! 2y
GripLitGrl 🙌💖 2y
Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks I love that song!!!! 2y
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JulietteGF
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Pickpick

Jesmyn Ward tells her story about a series of unfortunate deaths that occurred around her: how she felt about it, how she understands them, how she copes with them... The structure of the book made it difficult for me to get a real grasp of things. Definitely a great book for a book club.

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MichCaron
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...."You will always love him. He will always love you. Even though he is not here, he was here, and no one can change that. No one can take that away from you. If energy is neither created nor destroyed, and if your brother was here with his, his humor, his kindness, his hopes, doesn't this mean that what he was still exists somewhere, even if it's not here? Doesn't it? .... "

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Susan
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This book is amazing. I think it was a great book to start the new year.

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mrozzz
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AAAAAHHHHHH THANK YOU Renee!!!!
First off, you have a beautiful family! ♥️ Second, that handmade ornament?! OMG 😮 And the NOTEBOOKS ARE SO PRETTY! The mug... “Silence is more eloquent than words” 👌🏻 And the books..... 🤩📚📚

I‘ve been coveting the Ward and everything by Ishiguro and my bestie keeps telling me to read Frank McCourt and I‘m so touched I got your classroom copies of that and the Hosseni, which I should have read long ago! #SSGP

riversong153 ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾 2y
swishandflick Nice!!! 2y
See All 8 Comments
wrenaymuhree Oh, yay! I‘m so glad you liked the haul! This one came highly recommended on Bookstagram, but I don‘t typically read short stories...I hope you like it! 2y
wrenaymuhree ☺️☺️☺️ 2y
mrozzz @wrenaymuhree I‘m on a roll with stories this year, I‘m so excited!! 💜😊🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻 2y
[DELETED] 3803335244 I loved T‘is 2y
emilyhaldi Lovely ❤️❤️ 2y
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MEGR
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Pickpick

This is how human beings sleep and wake and fight and survive. In the end, this is how a mother teaches her daughter to have courage, to have strength, to be resilient, to open her eyes to what is, and to make something of it.

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RachelO
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You will always love him. He will always love you. Even though he is not here, he was here and no one can change that. No one can take that away from you. If energy is neither created nor destroyed, and if your brother was here with us, his humor, his kindness, his hopes, doesn't that mean that what he was still exists somewhere, even if it isn't here? Doesn't it? 💔

#TuneIntoNovember #TheTruthAboutLove
@robothugs @Cinfhen

Cinfhen I can't wait to read this one!!! I LOVE her writing 💝🙏🏻 2y
RachelO @Cinfhen It's so good, but desperately sad & angry-making. Your review of Sing Unburied Sing has convinced me to try that too - I wasn't sure.... 2y
Cinfhen I'm so glad @RachelO but the pressure 😬😬you saw from the post people are very split on Sing 😳 2y
51 likes3 comments
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Brie
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A selection of #diversenonfiction from my shelves, from memoir to history to biography. Some I‘ve read and some are still #TBR. #UncannyOctober

Cinfhen Nice selection ❤️ 2y
Brie @Cinfhen Thanks 2y
BarbaraTheBibliophage Like those picks! Added one or two to my TBR also. 2y
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MiaCostello
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Pickpick

"He will always be your brother, and you will always be his sister"

What I meant to say was "You will always love him and he will always love you. Even thought he is not here, he was here and no one can change that. No one can take that away from you. If energy is neither created nor destroyed, and if your brother was here will his humor, his kindness, his hopes, doesn't this mean he still exists somewhere, even if it's not here?"

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Ashley_Nicoletto
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Guys, The NY Times book review has a podcast out with an awesome interview with Jesmyn Ward. I know she has a lot of fans on Litsy. Check it out!

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Smrloomis
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Kindle deal 🌟

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missberlyreads
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Suetara
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Another great kindle sale - one of the new monthly deals.

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moarbookspleaze
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Pickpick

This was a tough one.

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moarbookspleaze
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Remedying the fact I've never read Jesmyn Ward.

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