The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates
Spiegel & Grau, 2010
“Perhaps the most surprising thing I discovered was that through the stories we volleyed back and forth in letters and over the metal divider of the prison’s visiting room, Wes and I had indeed, as Wideman wrote, ‘collapsed the distance’ between our worlds.” (page xiii)
The Other Wes Moore is the story of an author who discovers through a newspaper article that he grew up not far from another man with the same name. This newspaper article described an incident in which this other man had robbed a jewelry store and was therefore sent to prison. This story triggered the author’s curiosity and he decided to contact this prison inmate through letters. Not expecting a response, the author received a very well-written, kind-hearted letter from the man not soon after the author had sent his. The two men exchanged letters for a while before agreeing to talk in person at the prison. The Other Wes Moore details the stories exchanged between these two men and how their lives ended up so differently: one as a successful author; the other as a prison inmate.
The first half of The Other Wes Moore details the two mens’ childhoods, which were similar in many ways. The two men grew up without fathers for a majority of their childhood. Both of their mothers struggled financially and emotionally to raise a family on their own. The two men had no trouble making childhood friends, but the friends they associated themselves with often got them into trouble. The prisoner became involved with violence and drugs. The author became involved with graffiti and attracting the neighborhood girls. Both men got themselves into trouble with the cops throughout their childhoods.
This book’s major focus settles upon the idea of how children’s family life and surroundings impact them for the future. The author has done research and conducted interviews to discover how taking one wrong turn, or one right one, can change a child’s life forever. Many children don’t realize how important every decision they make can affect them in the future. The author of this story has decided to change that and provide the children of today with knowledge of the importance of decision-making in their lives. The author also hopes to inform parents of how to help their children thrive and stay out of trouble, which his mother failed to accomplished. I don’t necessarily connect with this story because I was raised in a small town with a nourishing family who taught me righteous morals. I stayed out of trouble and worked hard to please those who cared for me. In fact, I still do today. I think that’s why this story interests me so much. It’s a different story, a different point of view, a different lifestyle that I could never even imagine taking part of. It’s very interesting to learn approximately where these two men’s lives took different paths and how those changes impacted the rest of their lives.
I would recommend this book to anyone ages fifteen and above because it has taught me about the importance of decision-making in my life. It has also inspired me to raise my children well when the time comes and teach them righteous morals and important decision-making, much like my parents taught me and Wes Moore’s parents did not. Although I’ve only read the first half of this story which included details of the men’s childhood memories, I can’t wait to keep reading and learn more about the men’s lives as they grew older.