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Bad Boy: A Memoir Paperback – May 7, 2002
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Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
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Top Customer Reviews
In Bad Boy, I loved how the setting of the book is in Harlem, where I have visited many times. I am familiar with many of the places he "relaxed" in and feel connected to him somehow. The book is wonderfully written and shows that in the end, even a "troubled" boy can succeed. The author was adopted by Herbert and Florence Myers and many times talks about his and biological and natural families in the book. He gets the Dean in his name from his biological father and the Myers in his name from his adoptive father. The book shows the world of poverty, something that I am not acquainted with at all. It showed me that everyone does not have the things that us "middle class" kids have. All in all, he was raised in a bad situation, but turned out good in the end. In a teenager's view, parents are wrong. Period. In reality, they are only wrong sometimes, not all the time, or, just don't understand. In the end of the book on page 205, his father says, "You wrote stories when you were a boy. You're a man, now." This shows that his father didn't understand his passion for writing, and thought that writing was not "man's work".
I believe there were many small themes in the book. Bad Boy highlighted racism, teenage hood, and poverty just to name a few. As an African American teenager, I have experienced some, but not all of the things he has. I think that the main theme of the book is misunderstanding.Read more ›
Some of the more disturbing facts of his young life are reported on in a deadpan manner that at first seems almost flat. In one emblematic incident, a well-meaning teacher asks him his career plans, and upon hearing that Myers hopes to become a lawyer, flat-out tells him he can't, since he has a speech defect.
Myers made trouble, and he matter-of-factly tells why. Kids will appreciate his thoughtful explanations and self-understanding. But Myers was also a reader - not just for escape, but for the love of literature- and he lets us in that that process (and its consequences to his social life), too.
The chapters "Bad Boy," "I Am Not the Center of the Universe," and "Stuyvesant High" are particularly useful for their descriptions of important and formative experiences.
This is a story that is told humbly. It lacks melodrama not because Myers' early life was dull, but because Myers is a quiet writer; he trusts himself and his legions of young readers. He invites them in this quiet memoir to enter his quite remarkable experiences - and to form their own opinions. I enjoyed this sensitive (but not humorless) story very much, and came away with renewed interest and respect for its author.
The author describes his high school experience in a mostly white school; his athletic ability and love of basketball which helped him be accepted to some degree; and the frustration over the conviction that he was intelligent yet not able to earn the grades he knew he should. He divided all his spare time between playing basketball, reading for pleasure and writing-he would disappear for hours into the worlds his favorite authors created and/or trying to produce poems in the style of the various poets he was reading.
The beauty of this memoir is that Myers not only relates his own experience, his own frustrations, his opportunities and disadvantages, but he describes his growing love for literature, from reading pop romance novels aloud to his mother and sneaking comic books, through Nordic fairytales. Later he was introduced to higher quality literature by teachers who took an interest in him; they introduced him to Camus and de Balzac and Shakespeare, and a wide variety of other authors. Myers eventually became aware of the legacy of Langston Hughes and James Baldwin and other black writers, although he did not know about them until much later.
Myers' story should inspire young adults of teenage to pursue their interests, even if their friends do not understand them.
Hearing Myers' experiences related on audio brings them alive.
Actor Joe Morton (who also read an excellent version of Monster on tape) gives the teenage Walter Dean Myers a voice.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
My daughter Rani loved this book! Will order her more books by this author ☺️Published 4 months ago by Donia Mashburn
I really enjoyed this story of Walter Dean Myers childhood & growing up loving books. He was a screw-up in school, but was finally encouraged to continue writing. Read morePublished 9 months ago by L. Graham
The book was awesome I thought it was very well written so good job Walter dean Myers 😀 good jobPublished 12 months ago by Kyle Cooper