Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Nonfiction Review: The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore

Title: The Other Wes Moore: One Name Two Fates

Author: Wes Moore

Year Published: 2011

Category: Adult nonfiction
Pages: 250
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2021 Google Reading map) USA (MD, NY)

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Two kids named Wes Moore were born blocks apart within a year of each other. Both grew up fatherless in similar Baltimore neighborhoods and had difficult childhoods; both hung out on street corners with their crews; both ran into trouble with the police. How, then, did one grow up to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated veteran, White House Fellow, and business leader, while the other ended up a convicted murderer serving a life sentence? Wes Moore, the author of this fascinating book, sets out to answer this profound question. In alternating narratives that take readers from heart-wrenching losses to moments of surprising redemption, The Other Wes Moore tells the story of a generation of boys trying to find their way in a hostile world.

Review: I have been meaning to read this book since it came out in 2011 so am glad that I finally got around to it! I originally heard about it on an NPR story and thought the concept was so interesting. 

I found both stories equally engaging and I like the way the book is set up. Moore tells their stories chronologically and in parallel so that the reader can see what is happening to each of them at the same time in their lives, which was an effective set up. They have somewhat similar beginnings, but as the author Wes Moore gets into trouble, his mother has a system in place to move, to change his schools, and to get him on the right track. While it isn't an easy path for the author, the reader knows he is headed in the right direction. 

The other Wes Moore, on the other hand, doesn't seem to stand a chance with less support (from his overwhelmed mother to the schools to the police and his friends). The frustrating thing is that this Wes Moore feels it happening to himself and is almost resigned that he will end up selling drugs and getting in trouble. He is smart and make strides toward a better future, but life gets in the way. To the very end of the book and throughout the author's visits to him in jail, he professes his innocence. I'd love to find out if anyone has really looked into his case in a serious way.

Challenges for which this counts: 
  • A to Z (title)--"O"
  • Diversity--Black author and "characters"
  • Literary Escapes--Maryland


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