Friday, July 25, 2014

Review: The Other Wes Moore

The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau 2010

Format & Page Count: Paperback 180 pages

Genre: Nonfiction, memoir

Date read: July 14, 2014

My rating: 3 stars

Summary (from back cover): Two kids named Wes Moore were born blocks apart within a year of each other. Both grew up fatherless in similar Baltimore neighborhoods and had difficult childhoods; both hung out on street corners with their crews; both ran into trouble with the police. How, then, did one grow up to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated veteran, White House Fellow, and business leader, while the other ended up a convicted murderer serving a life sentence? Wes Moore, the author of this fascinating book, sets out to answer this profound question. In alternating narratives that take readers from heart-wrenching losses to moments of surprising redemption, The Other Wes Moore tells the story of a generation of boys trying to find their way in a hostile world.

My Thoughts: I'm going to try to keep my thoughts brief because I plan on writing an in depth discussion based on some topics that came up in this book. I think an appropriate place to start for this review would be why I decided to read this, since nonfiction is usually not up my alley. I am going to be starting college next month and the school that I will be attending has a Freshman connection program where we all read the same book over the summer, write an essay, and then get into groups and discuss it during welcome week. I wrote the essay just the other day, so now I feel the motivation to actually write this review.

If you were unable to tell based on my three star rating, I did not love this book. There were many problems, most of which will be elaborated on in my discussion. When I finished the book, I was immediately ready to move on. The story did not grip me or move me in any way. The reviews that plague the cover describe this book as "inspiring," "enlightening, encouraging, and empowering," and "a call to arms". I started expecting it to be a profound book that gave me a lasting impression, but for me it fell short of everything it promised. Not only did it not live up to expectations, but I felt cheated as I read it. The author described the two boys to be almost identical, but when I started reading, I noticed how different the boys were. Sure, they had some similarities, but if you take a closer look at them, it is clear why they ended up so differently. Also, the whole book was centered around why they ended up where they did in respect to each other, but the answer was ultimately never given. The author gave various ideas, but never elaborated on any reasons.

Overall, this book frustrated me more than it moved me. When I talk about this book, I end up giving a rant. The thing that saved this book from a lower rating was the way the stories were told. In one chapter a narrative about one Wes Moore would be told, then the next chapter would be a narrative from the other Wes Moore's life that either mirrored the first or gave insight into the juxtaposition of their lives. This gave the book potential along with the interesting stories, but ultimately fell short of my expectations.


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