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How We Fight for Our Lives : A Memoir.
2019
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Summary
"A coming-of-age memoir marks the emergence of a major literary voice...Masterful." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"An astonishing, unparalleled memoir...A rhapsody in the truest sense of the word." --Roxane Gay

"Every single living half-grown and grown-up body needs to read this book." --Jacqueline Woodson

One of the most anticipated books of Fall 2019--as selected by O, The Oprah Magazine ; Marie Claire ; Entertainment Weekly ; Time ; The Millions ; Parade ; Library Journal ; Booklist ; Refinery29 ; Pacific Standard ; Good Housekeeping ; Nylon ; Pacific Standard ; Goodreads ; and more.

"People don't just happen," writes Saeed Jones. "We sacrifice former versions of ourselves. We sacrifice the people who dared to raise us. The 'I' it seems doesn't exist until we are able to say, 'I am no longer yours.'"

Haunted and haunting, How We Fight for Our Lives is a stunning coming-of-age memoir. Jones tells the story of a young, black, gay man from the South as he fights to carve out a place for himself, within his family, within his country, within his own hopes, desires, and fears. Through a series of vignettes that chart a course across the American landscape, Jones draws readers into his boyhood and adolescence--into tumultuous relationships with his family, into passing flings with lovers, friends, and strangers. Each piece builds into a larger examination of race and queerness, power and vulnerability, love and grief: a portrait of what we all do for one another--and to one another--as we fight to become ourselves.

An award-winning poet, Jones has developed a style that's as beautiful as it is powerful--a voice that's by turns a river, a blues, and a nightscape set ablaze. How We Fight for Our Lives is a one-of-a-kind memoir and a book that cements Saeed Jones as an essential writer for our time.
Trade Reviews
Booklist Review
Because memories evolve over time, grow fuzzy or distorted, and occasionally disappear, a compelling memoir must improve upon dry facts with poetic embellishment. As such, Jones, author of the poetry collection, Prelude to Bruise (2014), is well-suited to write in this nebulous genre. In quick, impactful chapters, Jones recounts his experiences growing up gay and Black in the South, the only child of a single mother who's Buddhist, a practice which complicates the relationship with his assiduously Christian grandmother. As he figures out how to negotiate these relationships, Jones draws poignant parallels between two important figures, James Byrd, Jr., a Black man killed by three white men in a truck, and Matthew Shepherd, a gay man murdered by a pair of straight men. An uncomfortable, defining moment of the memoir occurs when Jones accompanies a straight white man back home after a party and an altercation ensues, which Jones renders with gut-wrenching clarity and surprising sympathy. Jones' unabashed honesty and gift for self-aware humor will resonate with readers, especially those in search of a story that resembles their own.--Diego Báez Copyright 2010 Booklist
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