How We Fight for Our Lives

How We Fight for Our Lives

A Memoir

eBook - 2019
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From award-winning poet Saeed Jones, How We Fight for Our Lives—winner of the Kirkus Prize and the Stonewall Book Award—is a "moving, bracingly honest memoir" (The New York Times Book Review) written at the crossroads of sex, race, and power.

One of the best books of the year as selected by The New York Times; The Washington Post; NPR; Time; The New Yorker; O, The Oprah Magazine; Harper's Bazaar; Elle; BuzzFeed; Goodreads; and many 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 about 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.


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ArapahoeAsia Mar 02, 2020

Jones' memoir is full of the joy of starting an authentic life and the disappointment of struggling to find a place for oneself in a world crafted primarily for white, heterosexual men. Jones starts a conversation with his readers about the different ways everyone we meet is fighting for their lives.

Feb 03, 2020

I read this book in less than 1 week. I couldn't put it down. It was such a delightful, painful and yet empowering memoir. If you are struggling with identify questions, or just want to learn more about the life of queer, POC, this is the book.

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Jan 30, 2020

A powerful memoir about the black gay experience. It will not appeal to all readers, but it is beautifully written and deals with an important topic.

Jan 21, 2020

Engaging memoir touching on important issues facing young Americans. This is what I love most about this genre, stories that aren’t afraid to be honest and raw while giving poignancy to the individual human odyssey.

Jan 21, 2020

Not what I thought or expected. Some very good literary writing at times and at other times a huge imagination stretch for me...

STPL_JessH Nov 23, 2019

This is a difficult book to review. I respect Saeed Jones and the raw and vulnerable narrative he presents. I am not sure I recommend it, though. I did not enjoy reading the book and found it almost mediocre at times which is surprising given Jones’ willingness to share hard truths.
This memoir is anecdotal in nature with specific moments recorded and then years go by without details. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this narrative choice; I just found it a bit disjointed. I was also surprised by the moments of poor writing considering that Jones is a poet. I would be interested to read his other work.
I can appreciate comparisons to Kiese Laymon’s work, but Heavy had such gravitas that I feel is lacking here. That said, How We Fight For Our Lives is a book that will continue to resonate and I may well change my mind about it.


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