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How We Fight for Our Lives

Narrated by: Saeed Jones
Length: 5 hrs and 34 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (183 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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’ 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 listeners 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 an audiobook that cements Saeed Jones as an essential writer for our time.

©2019 Saeed Jones (P)2019 Simon & Schuster Audio

Critic Reviews

"Listeners gain an intimate sense of Saeed Jones's life through vignettes he presents with grace, compassion, and ferocity.... Jones narrates unflinchingly through early curiosity about his sexuality, homophobia from family and community, and damaging sexual encounters. While he's skilled at creating voices for everyone in his audiobook, certain voices - taunting slurs, crazed declarations of violence - are particularly chilling. Through his dynamic narration, listeners will feel as though they are sharing intense confidences and moments of joy with a close friend." (AudioFile Magazine)

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  • Overall
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Beautiful story and narration

I loved this! It’s lyrical and wonderfully honest. I appreciate the vulnerability displayed by the author.

1 person found this helpful

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Very Enjoyable

I really loved the story. The author's prospective was open and honest. I wanted the story to continue. Like, what happened with Emma!

1 person found this helpful

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Powerful and Haunting

I continue to consciously marvel at how we as African Americans have to blaze paths for ourselves in an alternate reality in every aspect of life that the dominant culture refuses to see but still actively participates in making it a requirement. Saeed Jones skillfully pulls back the curtain to expose the extreme heights and near devasting depths of the non-stop rollercoaster ride that African Americans endure daily while we exist above ground in our coats of non-white skin. Our ancestors--mothers, fathers, and grandparents--are why we are able to endure and fight and thrive every day.

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Beautiful and Honest

A beutiful and honest memoir. I love memoirs and this one did not disappoint.

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Courageous Act

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.

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needed help with pacing and more emotions threaded

I came to this book and its author cold, other than knowing it was a memoir.
I knew exactly what was gonna happen when his grandmother dragged him upfront in the church.
things I didn’t like: jumping around in timeline. why if it's broken up in chapters does it need to be broken up into parts as well. not a voice actor. pacing issues. some emotional hooks but not enough. okay. all the sex stories. but what's the point of them?
things I liked: the ending was a gut punch about honoring his Mom after her death by taking that trip.
I wish the rest of the book had more of the emotional weaving within the story because I think that would have helped the pacing issues.

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EXTRAORDINARY WORK!

I heard an interview he did for one of my favorite podcasts and was delighted to see that his audiobook was narrated by himself. He has a poignant and humble, almost pithy writing style that's not too fluffed. I related directly to many of his life stories, and identified with the cathartic release in each of his chapters. I definitely plan to check out more of his poetry and prose.

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This guy can write (and read)

Very nice flow and the narration carries you along. I hope that Mr. Jones keeps fighting for his life because I'm pretty sure that he will have a lot more to say.

Readers who have a 'do I really want to be reading about this?' moment at any point in the book... should persevere. Well worth it.

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A Great Reality Check

I heard about this memoir from an interview on NPR with Saeed Jones. After listening to it, it really hit home. As a minority and part of the LGBTQ community, I knew exactly where the author was coming from. I highly recommend for everyone because it gives you a glimpse of how many minority groups feel in our society. Great listen!