One Name: Two Fates

Review of The Other West Moore

By Wes Moore

Available through Amazon

Since the day that NPR aired a story on this book it has been on my reading list.  It was one of the first books that I added to my current reading list on Goodreads. Then I purchased my kindle and material reading gave way to e-reading.  I picked up the book over the following months, but didn’t get passed the dry introduction.  Then one day it happened, I pushed through and was captured.

Wes Moore, author.

It held me captive for four days, if I had been off then it would have only been a day.  This true story of two fatherless young men raised in difficult times and with the odds stacked against them is a must read for all Americans; especially those who want to understand what is happening to our youth.

The two men from Baltimore once lived only a few blocks away from one another.  They faced challenge after challenge both making their fair share of mistakes. Both had loving mothers who tried to save their sons and did their best under nearly impossible circumstances. Both young men were let down by the educational system at one point.

The Other Wes & his daughter

The essential question of the memoir is what made the difference for the author, why was he successful and the other Wes imprisoned for life. Moore is wise enough in the narrative not to try and answer that question instead he lays out both of their stories and provides us with the social and historical context of the times the grew up in. It is a compelling narrative that doesn’t preach to its readers, it encourages you to think and make the decisions for yourself.

Sometimes though, there isn’t a simple answer.  Life is too complex for there to be just one, in any case. Still there is a lot to be learned from this narrative.  As a teacher it helped me remember just how complex the lives and decisions that my students face as single teen moms.  Just as my world and life is made up of infinite shades of grey so is the world that my students occupy; nothing is really black and white.  Maybe if we stopped trying to simplifying everything we would find better ways of reaching out to and saving our youth.

Wes speaking to Middle School students.


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