Tracy's Reviews > The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates

The Other Wes Moore by Wes  Moore
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May 09, 10

Read from May 07 to 08, 2010

Disclaimer: I have met the author Wes Moore. He was a student worker in the Career Center when I worked at Johns Hopkins. I didn't know him well, but did interact with him. Even then, it was apparent that he was a pretty extraordinary person. I was excited to read this book because I felt like I "knew" the characters and setting a bit.

I think my knowledge of the author colored my ability to see this book as a comparison of two boys with the "there but for the grace of God..." ideal that the description implies. Could the author Wes Moore have become the criminal Wes Moore? Perhaps. We all make foolish choices in life, and those choices made in the context of the environment that Wes was in, could have been tragic. But could the criminal Wes Moore have become the author? That seems to me to be more unlikely, because author Wes has a gift of charisma that draws people to him. Whether it resulted from his life experience or was a factor in his gaining that life experience is a chicken-or-egg question, but it is rare and probably not a fair comparison for another person.

Regardless of the strain of the comparison, the book definitely makes it clear that there were factors that existed in the author's life that didn't in the criminal's. One was the presence of an educated mother, and, in the author's case, one that was willing to do whatever it took to make sure her son went down the right path. The author's mother also had competent family support, something that the criminal's mother sadly lacked. Although both boys grew up fatherless, the circumstances of that fatherlessness were vastly different. It must have a different impact psychologically to know that you had a father that would have been there for you had he not tragically died, than to know that you have a living father that doesn't give a crap about you.

I guess where I'm left is wondering what to do with this information. Yes, we know that having a strong support network makes success possible for kids, regardless of the economics of their birth. I'm left wondering how we give them that network. Can someone else make up for the lack of a strong family base? If so, how?
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Lindsey Norberg I agree that Wes Moore is an extraordinary person. He took the time to meet me though he was pressed for time and share insight and advice on applying for the prestigious Rhodes scholarship. Never once did I get a inkling of doubt though they only accept 30 students...from the entire world. If you think he's extraordinary, I recommend "the unforgiving minute" I mentioned that the book where I learned of the scholarship n Wes is actually good friends with him!


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