On My Bookshelf: The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore

September 18, 2017

The Other Wes Moore was one of those books I couldn't put down; I read it cover to cover in one sitting. I found the premise of the book absolutely fascinating: two men with the same name, born in the same place, and roughly the same age, but with very different fates. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: 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.

"The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his."

Why I liked it: The Other Wes Moore was one of those books I couldn't put down; I read it cover to cover in one sitting. I found the premise of the book absolutely fascinating: two men with the same name, born in the same place, and roughly the same age, but with very different fates. As a teacher who has predominantly worked in urban areas, I saw the outcomes for the two Wes Moores to be similar to the challenges and possibilities for my own students.
The Other Wes Moore was one of those books I couldn't put down; I read it cover to cover in one sitting. I found the premise of the book absolutely fascinating: two men with the same name, born in the same place, and roughly the same age, but with very different fates. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

While most of us like an ending that neatly wraps everything up, I appreciated that the author didn't give a conclusive answer for why their two lives turned out differently. While there are obvious factors present (education, mentors, access to money, etc.), the author leaves it up to the reader to try to pinpoint the moment or decision that made the difference in each man's life.

Classroom application: This nonfiction text would be a great addition to a unit on memoir or a literature circle themes around choices. The original version of the text would be appropriate for upper high school, and a young adult adaptation, Discovering Wes Moore, is marketed at grades 7 and up.

During or after reading, it would be interesting to have students create a timeline of the moments and decisions in their lives that have had either a significant positive or negative effect on the direction of their life.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of The Other Wes Moore for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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