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Bad Boy: A Memoir

3.67  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,943 Ratings  ·  327 Reviews
In a memoir that is gripping, funny, and ultimately unforgettable, New York Times bestselling author Walter Dean Myers travels back to his roots in the magical world of Harlem during the 1940s and 1950s. Here is the story of one of the most distinguished writers of young people's literature today.

As a boy, Myers was quick-tempered and physically strong, always ready for a
Paperback, 214 pages
Published May 7th 2002 by Amistad (first published May 8th 2001)
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Walter Dean Myers
6th out of 70 books — 29 voters
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70th out of 218 books — 133 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Feb 01, 2011 Nancy rated it it was amazing
What a surprise! What a find! I got Walter Dean Myers' memoir "Bad Boy" for fifty cents in the kids' section at a church rummage sale Saturday. I thought I was buying it to add to my small, yet growing, classroom library. And many of my students have read Myers' "Monster."

Though kids might enjoy learning more about Myers because they've read his work, I'm not sure they'll appreciate the very thing in the book that I loved: Myers' thoughtful exploration of identity, in particular, the identity of
Feb 13, 2009 Vergeldt rated it liked it
I some what enjoyed htis book. that is impressive because i would only read military books and this one was thurally enjoyable. i do recememd reading this book.
if you enjoy books about a young boys struggle to read while growing up on the streets in a poor family in Harlem. as a young boy walter myers would go to hte library and carry them home in a brown paper bag in a futil attempt not to be teased by the other kids. As a kid he loved to read and was destined to be an writer until he came to r
Shayna Grage
Mar 11, 2011 Shayna Grage rated it liked it
This book is a memoir about a boy named Walter. The story starts off by talking about his family and how different it is from most. His biological mother died so his father re-married. After that happened his father had 2 other girls with her. Her family, however, didn't like that she was married to an African American, she was forced to leave him. When she took her daughters, she also took Walter in. This is hard for him at times. The book then goes on to tell about his life and going through s ...more
Nov 05, 2014 Koz rated it it was amazing
In one word: Important.

You need to read this book right now if you are any or all of the following:

1. A writer
2. A parent
3. A teenager
4. A former teenager
5. A teacher

Myers' book "Monster" is required reading in a lot of secondary English classes, but I haven't heard of "Bad Boy" being on many lists. It should be. This is one of those very few and far between books that I want to re-read the minute I finish it. I wish I would've discovered it sooner. I can connect with "Bad Boy" on so many differ
Ranulfo C
Dec 19, 2011 Ranulfo C rated it liked it
"Bad Boy" by Walter Dean Myers, was the book i read. What initially made me grab the book and start reading it was just by the title and cover of the book. The title name just sounds intersting for me since i think i know what's a bad boy, but i wondered if the book would have a similar definition.

In the story there are many parts of how Walter, the main character, is supposly a bad boy in school and at home with the family. Walter is not really a bad boy as other people see him, but as the sto
May 11, 2009 Diamond rated it liked it
"Bad Boy" the story of Walter Dean Myers life in the streets of Harlem and the challenges he faced from drugs, gangs and the feeling of having no hope to ever succeed. Walter shows the struggle of being a young African American and how you must survive. Walter at a young age was considered very intelligent the only thing that held him back was his speech defect. Much of Walter's life was something he fought for or strived for, something that really didn't expect with a kid that had so much rage ...more
Aug 28, 2013 Iva rated it really liked it
Walter Dean Myers presents his story of a child consumed by books, but continually was an under achieving student. He kept getting in trouble in spite of being one of the brightest students at his school. His quick temper caused him to get into fights and he often missed school because he was either expelled or he spent the day reading in the park. Once he missed so many days that he didn't know the term had ended. The book had a refreshing honesty about his family situation. It would provide ma ...more
Jon Brown
Apr 22, 2009 Jon Brown rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
This book was a gone one. This book was a great autobiography of himself. At first walter was afraid of people finding out he could read. He was afraid for them to find out he was smart and had great writing skills. Finally somebody did find out and what they did was totally unexpected...
Jul 07, 2014 Gray rated it liked it
I know of Walter Dean Myers and I've read an excerpt from a book of his, which one I don't remember, but it was so well written that when I came across this memoir of his, I was interested. Myers, as soon as he reached his teen years, struggled with his identity. Like many creative people, he didn't feel he fit in, although on the outside he could seem to be like any other young man, playing basketball, getting into occasional fights. At the same time, he loved to read and write. Myers was confl ...more
Rebecca McNutt
Apr 12, 2015 Rebecca McNutt rated it it was amazing
Really incredible memoir, the true story of a boy who wanted to make something meaningful out of his life but was growing up in a place where you have to be tough to survive. It was vividly detailed and intense to read; definitely one of my new favorite memoirs.
Feb 14, 2008 Sandra rated it it was amazing
This is a memoir of Walter Dean Myer's early life and probably targeted to middle school students; however, his is a compelling story of growing up in Harlem mid century that would speak to someone of any page, particularly since he ties his own story to an explication of his history as a reader/writer. Particularly interesting is a comparison he makes between himself and Mersault from The Stranger.
Sam Johnson
Oct 13, 2014 Sam Johnson rated it really liked it
Walter Dean Myers portrayed his life beautifully in Bad Boy: A Memoir.When reading this nonfiction book you find yourself truly in this boy’s life.You’re thoroughly intrigued by wondering what will happen next. The story is a first person view of Walter, a young black boy living in Harlem. You travel through Walter's life as he finds his path.
You start the book by describing Walter’s family. Walter lives with two white parents after his mother dies. As a young boy, Walter is much bigger than th
Armon Jones
Oct 14, 2011 Armon Jones rated it it was amazing
Young Walter is a mess! He was an intelligent young, even though he started off a little late. He always fought and got into tons of trouble, but eventually grew out of his childish ways and grew up.
I actually thought the book was going to be about a random kid, but who would’ve thought Walter Dean Myers, an excellent writer, had been a bad boy. He reminds me a lot of me because I always used to get into trouble too.
I remember when I saw my little cousin lie to his mom about the bruises on his
May 21, 2013 Dean added it
Myers, Walter Dean. Bad Boy. New York: HarperCollins, 2001.

“Bad Boy” is a memoir written by Myers. Myers wrote about his young life. This book has small size, it has 214 pages,and no pictures in this book.

This book talked about a black boy was borned in Harlem, he has two sisters, both of them
like music and dancing. He always dance on the street to get money to buy some snacks.And he
didn’t like Jewish boys,the Jewish boys never hit back when someone hit them, they always let
black people cha
Luis Gutierrez
Oct 24, 2013 Luis Gutierrez rated it it was amazing
Bad Boy:A Memoir is written by Walter Dean Myers. Walter Dean Myers's purpose for writing this book was to reflect on events that happened during his childhood. Bad Boy:A Memoir takes place in the 1940s to the 1950s in Harlem, New York. Walter struggled as a kid with a speech disorder. Also, his family was poor and he would sometimes get bullied and teased by other kids in his grade at school. Walter loved to read, and he was also very intelligent. Walter would often get into trouble at school. ...more
Jill Adams
Jan 18, 2016 Jill Adams rated it really liked it
I can't believe I hadn't read this before...a good read with great excerpts to pull about life and writing. We miss you, Walter.
5Burns D
In Walter Dean Myers' memoir Bad Boy, Myers first portrays himself as a quick-tempered boy who was always ready to fight, but as the book continues we learn Myers' true identity was really just a boy who loved nothing more than reading and writing. Growing up, he doubted himself and the values that he always relied on, attending school less and less to avoid bullying,and turning to the streets and his books for comfort. Myers used emotional appeal in his memoir to express the hatred he experienc ...more
Dec 10, 2015 Dinj added it
Din Johnson
English (green)
Book review
Bad Boy

Bad Boy, by Walter Dean Myers, was a memoir written about his life when he was young boy. Walter Dean Myers as a kid was very athletic. He was strong physically and Walter was always ready to fight at any given moment. He also excelled in the area of sports. Walter was also a reader when he was a kid; he loved to read books. he would usually take a couple books home to read in a brown paper bag. He did this to avoid being made fun of while walking in h
Liz Clauder
Dec 09, 2015 Liz Clauder rated it it was amazing
Shelves: work-ra
This memoir is an autobiographical chronicle of the author’s upbringing as a child, in the 1940s and 50s in Harlem. Walter Dean Myers grew up with his stepmother and the husband she married after leaving his father. He had a close relationship with her when he was young and wrote many poems for her. Walter was an avid reader as a child and did well in school due to the talent he possessed, despite being a troublemaker who sometimes got into fights.

As Walter became an older child and grew into a
Apr 09, 2015 Klocko rated it it was amazing
Book review written by:Karson Klocko

Bad Boy is very interesting book that is written by Walter Dean Myers and stars Walter Dean Myers as the main character, and talks it doesn't talk about Walter Dean Myers life but some of his family’s history. For example in the first chapter Walter finds out his great grandfather was a slave. Bad Boy also takes place in harlem during the 1920s at the end of the Harlem Renaissance and lots of the given culture at the time had died off, and some of Walter’s fri
Dec 11, 2014 Gus rated it really liked it
In the memoir Bad Boy by Walter Dean Myers, Walter explains about his memories in his life year by year. Walter's story is about being called a "bad boy" which is not true, but people assume that just because he is black. He grew up with a lot of racism in his life, but didn't pay any attention to it, and didn't let it affect him as a person. The central message in Bad Boy is to overcome anything that is bothering, and to be better than that that thing. Growing up in Harlem, Walter already was g ...more
Dec 02, 2014 Brook rated it it was amazing
Shelves: form-2
In the memoir Bad Boy by Walter Dean Myers, Walter recalls the most important events of his life year by year. His story is about living with racism and being called a “bad boy” when really he was not. The main idea or message from Bad Boy is no matter what your surroundings and society may be you can always be greater. Growing up in a poor family in Harlem meant that his hope for a successful future weakened as he realized the class and racial struggles that surrounded him. He began to doubt hi ...more
Ahna Sky
Sep 30, 2014 Ahna Sky rated it it was ok
Over the past couple of months, I have read the book Bad Boy, by Walter Dean Myers. The book starts off with his early childhood. In the book, Walter talks about life as “a black” in the 1940's, and all of the struggles that come along with it. His great-uncle was a slave, his father had married two times and had many children, they moved very often, and he had to put up with all of the unequality going on. His mother was very hardworking, cleaning houses and doing labor work, but she decided to ...more
Sydney Otto
Oct 20, 2015 Sydney Otto rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-chris-crowe
This story really moved me as a teacher. I wanted to be better after reading about Walter's teachers who never listened to the whole story, or never pushed him to be something more. I wanted to be like his one good teacher who saw the potential and did everything in his power to show him that he was not, in fact, a bad boy. I also was moved as a writer by Walter's journey to becoming one himself. I loved that he stayed true to himself, if only in secret, and didn't stop writing about, observing ...more
Walter Dean Myers was a writer of children and young adult books. I discovered his books when I was 13 or 14. The first book I read by him was Slam!. I've never been into basketball, but I did love the book and felt a strong connection to the characters. Walter Dean Myers and S.E. Hinton were the ones that really got me into reading. After reading Slam! and The Outsiders I was hooked on reading.

It has been quite a while since I've read anything by Walter Dean Myers and in January I decided to ta
Phoebe Salomon
Feb 18, 2016 Phoebe Salomon rated it liked it
Shelves: read-for-school
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jocelyn Taylor
Apr 25, 2015 Jocelyn Taylor rated it really liked it
I decided to read this book because I am teaching a unit on the poetry of Walter Dean Myers to my 4th graders. Reading the story behind his poetry, and learning how the lack of intellectual African American role models effected Mr. Meyers was eye-opening. It put his works into context and made them seem even more important.

I loved the detail that Mr. Meyers went into when writing this memoir. At the end, though, I am left with a lot of questions. The story basically ends when he joins the army
Jan 07, 2015 Lance17 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 02, 2014 Becky rated it really liked it
Myers wrote an exceptional memoir about his life growing up in Harlem. He doesn't sugar coat it and try and make it sound more impressive. Instead he shares his story about the fact he had or still has a horrible speech impediment but was an intelligent and strong reader. He truly was a bad kid who fought a lot and skipped school, but he doesn't glamorize the facts. He's inspirational for the age group I teach that think it's cooler to hate reading than to admit you're actually okay with it. Mye ...more
I love that Myers so honestly shared the trials of his childhood, particularly the challenges he faced at home and the struggles of feeling different from his family and friends as a reader and writer. And some of the "bad" classroom behavior will surely slip into some of those teacher nightmares we dread. It's hard to believe he came out of some of the situations he faced alive! I loved reading about Harlem in the 50s and the big names that Myers came across growing up: Langston Hughes, James B ...more
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Stacie Williams
Stacie Johnson

Walter Dean Myers was born on August 12, 1937 in Martinsburg, West Virginia but moved to Harlem with his foster parents at age three. He was brought up and went to public school there. He attended Stuyvesant High School until the age of seventeen when he joined the army.

After serving four years in the army, he worked at various jobs and earned a BA from Empi
More about Walter Dean Myers...

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“Each of us is born with a history already in place” 3 likes
“The idea of voluntary segregation went against every value I had been taught. What did being born black have to do with excellence?” 3 likes
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