Men We Reaped has an undeniably powerful premise. Ward is a black writer from a small, poor town in Mississippi. Over the period of four years, she lost three close friends & two relatives to unrelated incidents of violence; all five were black men between the ages of 19 & 32. Why are young black men so prone to die in the modern world? Ward returns to her roots to do two things: first, to tell the story of each of these five men and, secondly, to tell the story of her own life in her poverty stricken town. Ward is a brilliant writer and she has genuine insights into life and racial experiences. She isn’t interested in going easy on anyone, the reader included, and the book has a claustrophobic, stifling atmosphere of dread and anguish that grows ever more and more palpable. It’s an astoundingly great book and an important one too. It’s emotionally devastating and deeply disquieting; it’s a book that, simply put, everyone should read as soon as possible. It’s not an easy read, though it is conversationally written and not very long. But when the emotions get too heavy for you, remember some people live their whole lives there. And keep reading. Highly recommended. 4 stars.
tl;dr – black writer explores the tragic, violent death of five young, black male friends and her upbringing in poverty; this book cuts to the heart of national issues by focusing specifically on the personal and emotional. A masterpiece. 4 stars.