How We Fight For Our Lives
From award-winning poet Saeed Jones, How We Fight for Our Lives is a stunning coming-of-age memoir written at the crossroads of sex, race, and power.“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, Jones’s memoir 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 mother and grandmother, 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.Blending poetry and prose, Jones has developed a style that is equal parts sensual, beautiful, and 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.

How We Fight For Our Lives Details

TitleHow We Fight For Our Lives
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 8th, 2019
PublisherSimon and Schuster
ISBN-139781501132735
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, LGBT, GLBT, Queer

How We Fight For Our Lives Review

  • Roxane
    January 1, 1970
    In his astonishing, unparalleled memoir, How We Fight For Our Lives, Saeed Jones writes of making his body into a weapon, a fierce thing that can cut. In these pages, Jones also makes language into a fierce, cutting weapon. How We Fight For Our Lives is a coming of age story, it is a love letter to a black single mother, it is an indictment of our culture that creates so little space for gay men to learn how to be who they truly are. Most of all, this memoir is a rhapsody in the truest sense of In his astonishing, unparalleled memoir, How We Fight For Our Lives, Saeed Jones writes of making his body into a weapon, a fierce thing that can cut. In these pages, Jones also makes language into a fierce, cutting weapon. How We Fight For Our Lives is a coming of age story, it is a love letter to a black single mother, it is an indictment of our culture that creates so little space for gay men to learn how to be who they truly are. Most of all, this memoir is a rhapsody in the truest sense of the word, fragments of epic poetry woven together so skillfully, so tenderly, so brutally, that you will find yourself aching in the way only masterful writing can make a person ache. How We Fight For Our Lives is that rare book that will show you what it means to be needful, to be strong, to be gloriously human and fighting for your life.
    more
  • Betsy
    January 1, 1970
    Tell me more, please! I hardly ever say this, but this book was too short--I wanted more! Saeed Jones is a fantastic storyteller, even when he is telling stories that are heartbreaking and difficult to read. His vignettes about finding his place as a young, gay black man from the South are powerful and vivid. There are age-old adages about how literature helps us understand others, and How We Fight For Our Lives is a window into experiences that are completely unlike my own.I wanted more becaus Tell me more, please! I hardly ever say this, but this book was too short--I wanted more! Saeed Jones is a fantastic storyteller, even when he is telling stories that are heartbreaking and difficult to read. His vignettes about finding his place as a young, gay black man from the South are powerful and vivid. There are age-old adages about how literature helps us understand others, and How We Fight For Our Lives is a window into experiences that are completely unlike my own.I wanted more because the vignettes left some things out. Roughly 2/3 of the way through the memoir, Jones frames a traumatic event as a turning point for him. We're only given bits and pieces of how his thinking and behavior changed after this event, so I wanted to hear this part of the story, too. The memoir ends in 2011, which seems like an odd stopping point for a very young man's story. Jones was born in 1985, so 2011-2019 is roughly a quarter of his life. I understand why he chose to end this memoir where he did, but I also wonder how he has grown since then.Four stars. Read How We Fight for Our Lives if you're interested in a powerful account of the author's intersectional experience. (Readers should be forewarned that some content is graphic.)Thanks to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for giving me a DRC of this book, which will be available for purchase on October 8th.
    more
  • Tucker
    January 1, 1970
    is it illegal to give a book five stars before even reading it?
  • Traci at The Stacks
    January 1, 1970
    This book is soooo good. Saeed Jones is a force. His skills as a poet is fully evident in the prose of this book. Sexuality. Humanity. Blackness. Family. Grief. It’s all in here. He is vulnerable and he is genius and just wow!
  • Jessica Sullivan
    January 1, 1970
    This is a gorgeous memoir about growing up gay and black in the south, about knowing that the odds are against you and trying to carve a space for yourself in a world where “being a black gay boy is a death wish.”For Saeed Jones, forging his identity was about more than just coming out, it was about living authentically in all the many ways—and about the painful journey of finding out what that even meant.Jones’ life takes him from Texas, where as a young teenager he discovered his sexuality, to This is a gorgeous memoir about growing up gay and black in the south, about knowing that the odds are against you and trying to carve a space for yourself in a world where “being a black gay boy is a death wish.”For Saeed Jones, forging his identity was about more than just coming out, it was about living authentically in all the many ways—and about the painful journey of finding out what that even meant.Jones’ life takes him from Texas, where as a young teenager he discovered his sexuality, to Kentucky where he went to college and embraced his budding sense of self, to New York City where he currently resides as a poet. The raw and candid content of his memories is conveyed in powerful, lyrical prose that leave a searing impression.While the primary focus is Jone’s own coming of age, this striking memoir also serves as a touching tribute to his mother, who raised him by herself.(Thanks to NetGalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.)
    more
  • Brandy
    January 1, 1970
    A coming-of-age memoir about an African American boy coming to terms with being gay. Saeed grew up in the south fighting to understand his identity. How We Fight For Our Lives is a captivating read; you'll read about the up's and downs, the mental anguish, and the acceptance of who Saeed was and is now. The words are raw and flow beautifully; they really make you think about how we Americans treat each other and how being different is not so easily accepted. This memoir will stay with me for a l A coming-of-age memoir about an African American boy coming to terms with being gay. Saeed grew up in the south fighting to understand his identity. How We Fight For Our Lives is a captivating read; you'll read about the up's and downs, the mental anguish, and the acceptance of who Saeed was and is now. The words are raw and flow beautifully; they really make you think about how we Americans treat each other and how being different is not so easily accepted. This memoir will stay with me for a long time, I couldn't stop reading and I didn't want it to end.Thank you Saeed for your courage to write this memoir, you truly have an amazing skill.
    more
  • Brandee
    January 1, 1970
    I met Saeed this morning at an ALA panel on memoirs. He and the other panelists had me tearing up. I skipped an afternoon session to read his book and just finished it before bed. Again I am in tears.His writing is as easy to read as he is quick to smile. I am so glad I got to see him laughing and smiling in person after reading his book. His emotions are so palpable as you read each of the four acts. It's not just his story. It is that of his mother as well. What an incredible woman he has intr I met Saeed this morning at an ALA panel on memoirs. He and the other panelists had me tearing up. I skipped an afternoon session to read his book and just finished it before bed. Again I am in tears.His writing is as easy to read as he is quick to smile. I am so glad I got to see him laughing and smiling in person after reading his book. His emotions are so palpable as you read each of the four acts. It's not just his story. It is that of his mother as well. What an incredible woman he has introduced us to.
    more
  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    More like 4.5. This is one of the most beautifully written memoirs I've had a chance to read. Tight, evocative, rhapsodic, Jones' recollections of moments, people, emotions punctuates so much deeper upon reading (and re-reading). This book is beautiful sentences *and* thoughtful introspection. It's a book to savor and to learn from. If you've read PRELUDE TO A BRUISE than you already know how economic and lovely Jones can weave a story but also relay a truth.
    more
  • Jonathan
    January 1, 1970
    “A friend told me once that after her father died, she cried so intensely, a blood vessel in one of her eyes burst. It had seemed like an impossible marvel when she told me at the time, but now I knew. Tears don’t always just fall; sometimes they rip through you, like storm painted gusts instead of mere raindrops.”.How we fight for our lives by Saeed Jones is hard for me to review, it was beautiful, wonderful, poetic, informative, and heartbreaking. The story is a love letter from Jones to himse “A friend told me once that after her father died, she cried so intensely, a blood vessel in one of her eyes burst. It had seemed like an impossible marvel when she told me at the time, but now I knew. Tears don’t always just fall; sometimes they rip through you, like storm painted gusts instead of mere raindrops.”.How we fight for our lives by Saeed Jones is hard for me to review, it was beautiful, wonderful, poetic, informative, and heartbreaking. The story is a love letter from Jones to himself as a gay black man, as well as a stunning eulogy to the life of the amazing single mother who raised him. .Told in short burst of time periods and places, from 1998-2011, from Texas to Kentucky to Memphis and back, Saeed tells his story, the tumultuous story of a young black gay boy becoming a man and finding himself and his sexuality through pained experiences and ones of shame and regret. He spares no details and fully informs the reader of everything , realizing at a young age that “being black can get you killed” “Being gay can get you killed”“Being a black gay boy is a deathwish”..This book was very important to me as a straight white male because it intimately brought me into the life of a man very similar to myself in life but with two very contrasting differences, and from his unflinching poetic words Jones taught me so much and made me feel the experience that he has while growing up, this memoir is special, it’s gorgeous, it’s a rare find. Please do yourself a favor and let this mans words completely engulf you and break your heart.
    more
  • Autumn
    January 1, 1970
    Lovely writing, very readable, hard to put down. Will be good for book clubs and teenagers. Appreciate his honesty about public libraries in particular— he got turned down for a page job as a teen; instead a grown man picked him up at the public computers for a restroom rendezvous. Escandaloso!
    more
  • Nicole
    January 1, 1970
    I love Saeed Jones’s writing and this memoir was no exception. At once beautiful and devastating, I didn’t want the book to end.
  • Brenna Gomez
    January 1, 1970
    What a gorgeous, difficult, and staggering book. Saeed Jones deftly ties together the arcs of his relationship with his mother and a coming-of-age story on sexuality, race, and violence and how they sometimes intertwine. The book is powerfully written in short chapters/sections with the devastating clarity of a poet. The language is evocative and beautiful. I can't recommend this book enough.
    more
  • Diane Payne
    January 1, 1970
    This memoir is a tribute to Saeed's mother, to himself, to the older woman he met at the hostel, and to his grandmother. Much of his memoir is about living with his mother who has a serious heart condition and needs a transplant, about coming out as gay, about finding himself through endless sexual encounters, and stepping out into a different world after his mother dies. The writing is honest, raw, and elegant When I finished the book it dawned on me, that when I left my jobs, I left my life in This memoir is a tribute to Saeed's mother, to himself, to the older woman he met at the hostel, and to his grandmother. Much of his memoir is about living with his mother who has a serious heart condition and needs a transplant, about coming out as gay, about finding himself through endless sexual encounters, and stepping out into a different world after his mother dies. The writing is honest, raw, and elegant When I finished the book it dawned on me, that when I left my jobs, I left my life insurance policies, so no payout for my daughter. I also wondered about my own mother, someone who usually enjoyed going to church, and who the pastor visited when she was ill, but how I don't remember ever hearing her pray. This memoir brings out much about the reader since the author has given so much of himself to write the book.
    more
  • Jamie
    January 1, 1970
    How We Fight For Our Lives leaves me with a metaphor I will never forget: using the body as a weapon. Saeed Jones spends a lot of this memoir describing relationships— to family, specifically his mother and grandmother, and to strangers, many of whom are sexual conquests. There’s a tenderness, fear, and timidity to his familial relationships that struck me; hiding discussion of his sexuality while also balancing vulnerable conversations about belief and illness. As he describes becoming new vers How We Fight For Our Lives leaves me with a metaphor I will never forget: using the body as a weapon. Saeed Jones spends a lot of this memoir describing relationships— to family, specifically his mother and grandmother, and to strangers, many of whom are sexual conquests. There’s a tenderness, fear, and timidity to his familial relationships that struck me; hiding discussion of his sexuality while also balancing vulnerable conversations about belief and illness. As he describes becoming new versions of himself beyond the constraints of family, Jones is able to create connections with strangers based on power and lust. These encounters complicate his understanding of his own body: how he can manipulate desire as a way to move through/ attempt to forget pain. The short chapters felt like I was on a rip tide through his life; appropriate for the abrupt changes that are both a part of Jones inherent identity and the identities he constructs for himself. I haven’t read through a book this fast in a while, chasing a sense of who he really is, as I feel the writer was doing in his process too. It’s a powerful memoir of developing queer intersectional identity and finding ways to control that identity while challenged by the deep guilt & loyalty to familial roots. Out in October , so pre-order!
    more
  • Scottie Draughon
    January 1, 1970
    Listen. I sat down and devoured this book almost entirely in one sitting. It left me in tears, and I don’t cry very often while reading. The story is so touching, so deeply emotion, and hit close to home. How We Fight For Our Lives is a memoir, not necessarily a coming out story, I didn’t see it that way, but I’m sure someone will. The story follows Saeed from childhood til adulthood. It does involve his coming out—how could it not?—but that’s not the focus. The focus is simply on himself, on hi Listen. I sat down and devoured this book almost entirely in one sitting. It left me in tears, and I don’t cry very often while reading. The story is so touching, so deeply emotion, and hit close to home. How We Fight For Our Lives is a memoir, not necessarily a coming out story, I didn’t see it that way, but I’m sure someone will. The story follows Saeed from childhood til adulthood. It does involve his coming out—how could it not?—but that’s not the focus. The focus is simply on himself, on his winding way through life, through his family, through tragedy. I don’t want to say too much, since the book isn’t out yet. Just know that this is a story that will hold you captivated, and perhaps you, like I, will finish it in one incredible day.
    more
  • Norris Rettiger
    January 1, 1970
    Every time I read a book like this it yanks open the maw in my stomach and pulls apart the flesh that feels that sinking feeling that something went horribly wrong and there are people who have lived and died in a way that was never meant to be. Saeed Jones somehow makes that sinking feeling sink down even lower into that place below the surface of me, below the surface of anything, where beauty hides and waits for us to fall down and find it.
    more
  • Meagan
    January 1, 1970
    I adore this memoir. It’s a tale of finding oneself, always taking the hard way to get there since we often have no guides to show us the way. It’s about love and fear and being raised by a single mom. It’s Saeed Jones being unapologetically who he is, and was, and I’m so grateful I got to meet him in DC.
    more
  • Adrienne
    January 1, 1970
    A stunning mix of poetry and prose that tells the story of Saeed Jones' fight for his life as he comes of age. I couldn't put it down.
  • Afton Montgomery
    January 1, 1970
    Saeed Jones is a blessing, and this memoir is a blessing. I appreciate him most for refusing to separate queerness and grief into disparate topics for disparate projects. They are intricately intertwined, and Saeed knows it. When my own dad was dying, I lamented not having texts that spoke to sitting at a hospital bedside. After, I lamented not having texts that related queerness to loss. This book is all of the things I wanted; it gives affirmation, it holds you by helping you hold yourself, an Saeed Jones is a blessing, and this memoir is a blessing. I appreciate him most for refusing to separate queerness and grief into disparate topics for disparate projects. They are intricately intertwined, and Saeed knows it. When my own dad was dying, I lamented not having texts that spoke to sitting at a hospital bedside. After, I lamented not having texts that related queerness to loss. This book is all of the things I wanted; it gives affirmation, it holds you by helping you hold yourself, and mostly: it's the truth.
    more
Write a review