Friday, May 20, 2016

Book Review: The Other Wes Moore

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates
Wes Moore
Spiegle & Grau, 2011
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
Source: Borrowed
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

What It's All About
Two boys with the same name, living in similar neighborhoods not very far from each other, without fathers in their lives.  So how come one ended up with a Rhodes Scholar and successful career and the other is serving a life sentence in prison for murder?  Where did things change for these young men who grew up with so many similarities?  Wes Moore chronicles his life and also the other Wes Moore's life, piecing together different periods of their lives and presenting them side by side.  He doesn't offer answers, but shows how each of their lives allowed for different paths at various points in time and where those paths led them.  

My Thoughts
I was drawn into The Other Wes Moore almost immediately.  The story of both men's lives was heartbreaking at times and I would look out at my class as I was reading, wondering which way my students would go.  Although I don't teach in an inner city school, I see the same things with kids being pulled into bad choices and parents who are desperately trying to do their best, but also trying to make enough money to keep a roof over their heads and be there to help with homework.  Would my words be enough today?  Did my short temper earlier just make it easier for someone to take a different path?

What I liked about this book was that the author didn't give a reason for the difference.  He simply showed the differences that were there.  Both boys had many of the same or at least similar experiences, but the author managed to find himself a Rhodes Scholar, interning at the White House, and a successful businessman.

At the beginning of each chapter, snippets of conversations between the Wes's are shared as they discuss different aspects of their lives.  These all take place in prison as the author visits the man who shares his name in prison. They have insightful discussions that cause the author to consider his own beliefs and understanding of the world.

Overall, I think The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates is an important read for everyone, especially people who work with youth.

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