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Bad Boy: A Memoir Paperback – May 7, 2002

3.5 out of 5 stars 187 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Myers paints a fascinating picture of his childhood growing up in Harlem in the 1940s, with an adult's benefit of hindsight, wrote PW. What emerges is a clear sense of how one young man's gifts separate him from his peers, causing him to stir up trouble in order to belong. Ages 13-up. (May)
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up-This recording of Walter Dean Myers' autobiography (HarperCollins, 2001) will engage those familiar with his fiction as well as those who have not read Motown and Didi (Viking, 1984), Fallen Angels (Scholastic, 1988), the Printz-winning Monster (HarperCollins, 2001), or any of his other children's and young adult literature. Actor Joe Morton reads smoothly and with subtle inflections that augment passages producing shared laughter or horror with the storyteller's view of events. Bad Boy recounts Myers' roots; his unofficial but permanent adoption as a toddler; how his mother planted and nurtured his life-long love of reading; the academic trials and victories he met in his Harlem grade school and accelerated junior high years; and the deleterious combination of speech impediment, depression, racism and alienation he experienced through his high school career. Eventually, he left school, without a diploma, to serve a stint in the army, followed by a decade of manual labor, before rediscovering his writer's voice and strengths. In addition to providing a chronology of Myers' personal growth and offering insights on the times, his autobiography is rich with references to the many books he found through teachers, librarians, and his own browsings. His introductions to such works as Camus' The Stranger are presented in a manner sure to entice teens to borrow from the Myers canon. With a bit of music to announce the beginning and end of each cassette's side, the production quality is befitting of this major new literary work.

Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Amistad; Reprint edition (May 7, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0064472884
  • ISBN-13: 978-0064472883
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.4 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (187 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,468 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Please be aware of these two books with VERY SIMILAR TITLES- One by Walter Dean Myers, Bad Boy: A Memoir, the other- Bad Boy by Olivia Goldsmith. As I was looking at the reviews of Myers' book, I was caught off-guard by the numerous negative comments regarding his writing. After further investigation, it seems that many are commenting on Goldsmith's book. Just a heads up for those writing and reading these reviews.
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By A Customer on November 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
The book Bad Boy by Walter Dean Myers is a memoir of the author's life. Set mostly in Harlem, the book follows Myers' troublesome childhood and the challenges he faced with his family life, his adoption, and his behavior. Though a bright child, he had a quick temper and a speech problem. This got him into many bad situations and unfortunately partly led to his "downfall" in school.
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.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a straightforward and workmanlike autobiography by a prolific writer of works for young readers, and is probably best for kids as young as eight through young teens. Myers' voice is calm and reflective. He has looked back on the vanished world of his 1940's and 50's Harlem childhood and adolescence with a deceptive calmness, and a pleasing recall of detail. School, friends, teachers, family life, community life, and (not insignificantly to Myers, a voracious reader) the covers and contents of pulp novels and magazines, as seen through a child's eyes - are all here.
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.
Completely worthwhile.
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Format: Audio Cassette
Having written short biographies of Malcolm X and other public figures, Myers recounts his own experience growing up in Harlem in the 1940's-60's. Myers apparently missed the turmoil facing the African-American community in Harlem during the time of Malcolm X. It is a soft spoken voice with which he describes his experiences and conflicts.
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.
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