From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Wes Moore-two different people from the same area with the same name. One graduated with honors from military school and was the first African American graduate of Johns Hopkins to become a Rhodes Scholar. The other Wes Moore landed in prison; he is serving a life sentence for murder. Both men were children of single mothers who worked hard to keep their sons out of trouble and keep food on the table. Why and where did their paths diverge? In 2010, the author wrote of his experiences and successes in The Other Wes Moore (Spiegel & Grau, 2010), and he has now adapted that book for teen readers. He talks of his own accomplishments and life experiences as a kid who might have gone astray had his mother not sent him to Valley Forge. While he was at Oxford, his mother told him of the other young man, and he never quite forgot about him. He started writing him letters, and, surprisingly, Wes responded from prison. The two men struck up a rapport that continued through letters and visits to the prison. This book is well written and is an interesting and engaging story, although it is a bit rushed, at times. It's a thought-provoking read that will cause teens to question their own lives and decisions, and, hopefully, show how adults can lend help, even when they think it's not necessary.-Traci Glass, Eugene Public Library, ORα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
The title of this memoir isn’t a metaphor; it’s an astonishing fact. In a poor Bronx 1980s neighborhood, Moore’s single-parent mom worked multiple jobs so that he could attend private school, and she raged about his low grades as he tried to fit into both worlds. (“I was ashamed of being embarrassed about my own home.”) After he narrowly escapes prison, she sends him to military school, and at 15, he becomes the youngest sergeant in the entire corps; at 16, a paratrooper. His hero is Colin Powell. But then Wes discovers, literally, another Wes Moore, who is like his double. This Wes, who grew up in the ’hood, dealt drugs, and spent time in juvie, wanted to quit dealing and support his kids, but he ended up shooting a cop and received a life sentence in prison, where the author visits him. The messages are loud and purposeful but never simple, and readers will recognize the scary truth: “his story could have been mine.” Great for group discussion, this includes a final resource list and photographs. Grades 7-12. --Hazel Rochman