Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore

Wes Moore grew up in Baltimore in the 1970s and 80s without a father in his life and went on to become a graduate of Johns Hopkins, was a Rhodes scholar, served in Afghanistan, and worked in the White House. Wes Moore grew up in Baltimore in the 1970s and 80s without a father in his life and dropped out of high school, worked in the drug trade, and ended up with a life sentence after being involved with an armed robbery that ended up claiming the life of an off-duty police officer. At the same time that the Baltimore Sun published a story about Wes Moore's Rhodes' scholarship, they were also running multiple stories about Wes Moore's involvement in the armed robbery. Struck by the coincidence, Wes Moore was determined to find about more about this other man who shared his name and his background - and to figure out how their lives had ended up so differently.

For a book that focuses on two characters both named "Wes Moore," it was remarkably easy to follow. Moore uses first-person narrative when talking about himself, and third person when talking about Wes. I could easily understand his desire to find out more about this person; there's some kind of thing that happens when you find someone who shares your name (and I think that's why so many people google their name or search for their name on Facebook). Who is this person? What have they done with our name? What life did they have? Moore's story is a sad one at times, a story of Baltimore and the Bronx in the 1970s and 1980s, a story where race and politics played large roles in determining possibilities, and where positive role models were difficult to find and even harder to live up to. This book is definitely worth checking out.

Find it at IndieBound.

Read it with:
Can't Stop, Won't Stop by Jeff Chang
Monster by Walter Dean Myers
Letters to a Young Artist by Anna Deavere Smith
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

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