Tuesday, June 9, 2015

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

I read The Other Wes Moore in February 2014. It was one of many draft reviews that I never posted. Since it was so close to being finished, I decided to clean it up and get it on the blog. The story is about two people with the same name, growing up in the same city. The author becomes a Rhodes Scholar while the other Wes ends up serving life in prison.
My biggest qualm about this book is that author Wes made inferences the reader should’ve been allowed to make. I didn't feel like the story was fair to the incarcerated Wes and have many times wondered if incarcerated Wes felt the same way. I would’ve preferred a story that was more balanced.

However, the book did make me think about some things. Would the outcome be the same if two people made the same mistake but in different environments? I had not considered the impact some mistakes or poor decisions have on your life are closely related to the environment in which those mistakes were made. What if you're in an environment where you're expected to become an upstanding citizen instead of one where you're expected to become a part of the prison population? What if you're in an environment where your support system includes aunts, uncles, two parents, and teachers instead of one parent and maybe a sibling?
At some point in life you begin to think about the future. But that's easy to do when your present isn't burdensome. Although, I didn't think it was that simple until incarcerated Wes admitted that the first time he thought about his future was after his fate, a lifelong prison sentence, was sealed. I can understand how if you’re doing what you have to do to survive, your most pressing priority is the present.
The book read like two men with the same name, growing up in the same place with less juxtaposition than I anticipated. The reader is able to identify some differences in the lives of the two men that could answer some questions about how things turned out. But ultimately I was left wondering about the other Wes. Wes Moore’s new book, The Work: My Search for a Life That Matters, was released earlier this year. The paperback will be released on July 21.

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The Other Wes Moore on Amazon
The Work: Searching for a Life That Matters on Amazon

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