The Other Wes Moore


Author: Wes Moore

Title: The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates

Genre: Nonfiction; African American; Biography, Autobiography and Memoir

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 233 (including a 45-page resource guide)

Geographical Setting: primarily Baltimore, Maryland, and the Bronx, New York

Time Period: 1982-2000

Plot Summary: Before writing this book, Wes Moore had been haunted for years by the idea of a man from his neighborhood, with his name, whose path started out so similar to his own, yet ended up widely diverging. Born just a couple of years apart, both were raised by single mothers in the inner city; both had ready access to the drug culture, early run-ins with police, and trouble in school; both had numerous turning points and second chances. The author emerged as a Rhodes Scholar, White House Fellow, Wall Street investment professional, and decorated Afghanistan war veteran. The other Wes Moore is serving a life sentence in a Maryland jail for his role in a botched jewelry store robbery that left an off-duty cop dead. Unable to shake questions about who the other Wes Moore was and how his life unfolded, the author reached out to him and began several years of correspondence with a goal of shedding light on how their various circumstances and choices made the difference in their lives. Through a series of interviews with Wes and other important people from both their lives, this book pieces together a chronological story that tells about more than just these two men. It looks at the broader social and cultural factors that impact inner-city youth, and tries to motivate readers to think differently about their lives, and have different expectations for others. At its close, it includes a call to action and a detailed resource guide of organizations that help youth across the country.

Subject Headings: Family and relationships – Growing up; African American teenage boys; Moore, Wes, 1978- – Childhood and youth; Moore, Wes, 1975- – Childhood and youth; Baltimore, Md. – Social conditions 20th century; Violence – Baltimore, Md.; Prisoners – Maryland; Turning points.

Appeal: Accessible, candid, contemplative, compelling, details of urban life, family-centered, haunting, insightful, issue-oriented, thought-provoking, well-researched

Three Words or Phrases Best Describing this Book: Character-driven, inspiring, heartbreaking

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors
Step Out on Nothing: How Faith and Family Helped Me Conquer Life’s Challenges by Byron Pitts (Autobiography by 60 Minutes correspondent Pitts about overcoming obstacles such as poverty and functional illiteracy growing up in Baltimore; emphasis on family and faith.)

Stand by Me: The Risks and Rewards of Mentoring Today’s Youth by Jean E. Rhodes (Examination of mentoring programs that serve underprivileged youth, and analysis of what makes them effective; good for readers inspired by Wes Moore’s message about the importance of mentors and setting high expectations for at-risk youth.)

Brothers and Keepers: A Memoir by John Edgar Wideman (Memoir and social history examining why the author was successful while his brother ended up in jail for murder; similar themes and character-centered approach to uncovering where two paths diverged as in The Other Wes Moore.)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors
Chyna Black by Keisha Ervin (An urban coming-of-age tale in which the protagonist is an African American female caught up in St. Louis street life. Character-driven, and with many themes that overlap with The Other Wes Moore.)

Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers (A young adult novel and National Book Award finalist that follows a 14-year-old in a juvenile detention center and his efforts to change his life’s direction. Gritty, moving, compelling and true-to-life.)

Between Brothers: A Novel by C. Kelly Robinson (Compelling story of four men at a historically black college and obstacles they still face, including funding for education, drug dealers, and other social issues from The Other Wes Moore. Character-centered and issue-oriented.)

By: Elaine


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