The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates
Spiegel & Grau, 2010
“We will do what others expect of us,” Wes said. “If they expect us to graduate, we will graduate. If they expect us to get a job, we will get a job. If they expect us to go to jail, then that’s where we will end up too. At some point you lose control.” (page 126)
I thought the first half of The Other Wes Moore was interesting, but I couldn’t put the book down while reading the second half of the book. The second half of the book details the two mens’ lives during their last years of high school and the years beyond including the struggles they faced in creating a family and the struggles they faced in finding a job. The author describes his experience at military school and how the school helped shape him up and change his life perspective. The inmate describes his life of messing around with different women and ending up with four children from two different moms. The inmate also continued his drug business, but later declared to a friend that he would like to get out of the business and find a steady job. This friend helped Wes get involved in the Job Corps, where Wes became very successful, graduated the program early, and began work as a carpenter.
As talked about in my first blog, the major focus of this book is the idea of how family life and surroundings affect an individual. The author talks about how much military school and the officers in charge of him there inspired him to turn his life around. While the author was moving up in the ranks of military school, becoming a sergeant and a paratrooper, the inmate was struggling with his inconsistent job of carpentry and found himself on the run from the police after a jewelry store robbery. These different paths taken seem to be the major turning point in the two mens’ lives that separate their futures. The Other Wes Moore incorporates the debate of nature versus nurture within this story. The author talks about the main question of this book, “What made the difference?”, on page 179. The author states that the answer can never be found because each individual is so unique and every person has their own life story. The author believes that some points in a person’s life are more crucial than others, such as the moment he found mentors who trusted him with responsibilities, which forced Wes to get serious about his perspective of life and his future.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and learning about the unpredictable turns taken in these two mens’ lives. My favorite part of this book was hearing about the author’s experience at military school and how much of a turnaround the author made throughout his years at the school. He started out as a troubled plebe trying to run away from the camp, but ended up as a respected sergeant in charge of his own soldiers. The author is sure to include how much the officers in charge of him at the camp intimidated him, but also inspired him to get his life together.
The quote above was a statement made by the inmate. This quote upset the author because he was appalled by the idea that the inmate could shed all responsibility so easily and blame his future on others’ perspective of him. The inmate didn’t care about controlling his future, unlike the author. I believe that this perspective also helped separate the two mens’ futures because the author was motivated to turn his life around for the better while the inmate eventually gave up on his future.