11 September 2012, Random House Children's Books
This young adult version of The Other Wes Moore follows the author’s experiences growing up and struggling with hard choices under difficult circumstances. His father, a well respected television news reporter, dies when Wes is young, and his mother tries her best to take care of her three children. They move in with their Jamaican grandparents in the Bronx only to find that the neighborhood in the 1980s is riddled with crack addicts and gun violence. Afraid for Wes’ safety, his mother enrolls him in an exclusive private school away from the city, where he befriends one of the few other black students, Justin. Unfortunately, Wes misbehaves and does poorly, so his mother ends up putting him in military school. He manages to turn his life around and is fortunate to have opportunities to go to Johns Hopkins as well as be a Rhodes Scholar. When Wes is in Africa studying, another man named Wes Moore in Baltimore (where his mother has relocated) is arrested for a robbery and killing a police man, and the author is glad that he was not in town at the time lest he be arrested accidentally. Intrigued by the choices that brought the other Wes Moore to his eventual incarceration, the author contacts him and interviews him about his life, which is outlined in the second half of the book.
Strengths: This is not very long, and gives a lot of detail about life in the inner city that many of my students find interesting. There is a lot of information about the obstacles that young black men face in an urban environment, and a positive message about choices.
Weaknesses: This ends on an overly preachy note that some readers might just skip.
The freshman class at Kent State had to read the adult version of this book over the summer.
first girls' cross country team my school had in 1982!