Janessa Brown's Reviews > Bad Boy: A Memoir

Bad Boy by Walter Dean Myers
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's review
May 18, 2011

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bookshelves: young-adult-literature
Read from May 13 to 18, 2011

"Bad Boy", Walter Dean Myers' autobiography, is an intriguing piece of literature. It was an interesting choice on my part, as I have never read any of Myers other books. However, I was surprised at the upbeat nature of this memoir and its ability to keep me in its grasp. Myers grew up with extended family, the Dean's, and accredits his informally adopted mother to the spark of his ingenuity and success. As Walter struggled in the public education system with behavioral problems, speech impediments, and self-esteem issues, his source of comfort became the books he read in secret. He was identified as a bright, intelligent boy at a young age, but nonetheless, the teachers were always forewarned of his "issues".

This book has confirmed to me that education does not make an intelligent person. A person is entirely responsible for their intelligence. Education is a tool, an incredible tool (I don't mean to demean it), but intelligence is a choice. For Myers, while he attributes success to certain teachers, public education was a place where he was repeatedly told what a "bad boy" he was. With this drilled into his mind and soul, he's taken down roads that are emotionally gripping to readers. I'm excited to read other Walter Dean Myers books, and I feel I will have greater appreciate for them and insight into them now.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is parenting, teaching, or looking to become one of the two. Its' insights into human perspective, emotion, and discipline is extremely eye-opening and will change the way you treat and speak to children.

Warning: Walter does become interested in sex in his teens, so there are references to that; mild, infrequent language; violence (Walter gets into a fight about every 10-15 pages), gangs, and brief drug use.

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