Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Bad Boy: A Memoir” as Want to Read:
Bad Boy: A Memoir
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Bad Boy: A Memoir

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  2,525 ratings  ·  406 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)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Bad Boy, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
Feb 01, 2011 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 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 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
Jun 11, 2009 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
Pamela Canepa
Dec 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I am so glad to have read this book with my 6th-grade students! What honesty he exhibits about his life and struggles! I love that there is a happy ending, and it was actually quite easy for my students to arrive at a message he was communicating to them. There were parts I would not read aloud with them from Myers' teen years, but it was all part of his complete honesty about his life. Many students were so engaged in this book for its honesty and its right in your face approach to the racism M ...more
Ranulfo C
Nov 20, 2011 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
Jan 16, 2009 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 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 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...
Sherry Chandler
Oct 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Myers' style is so easy, so fluent that you don't notice it. Some books are all style, the author is always in your ear saying "look what I can do." I often like that kind of book. Myers, however, tells the story of his childhood simply, without razzle dazzle. Like Yeats says, ya gotta make it look easy, and Myers does. I'm told this is a YA book, and I would not have read it if it hadn't been book of the month for a non-fiction book club I joined recently. At no time. however, did I think I was ...more
Jul 07, 2014 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
Feb 14, 2008 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.
Rebecca McNutt
Apr 03, 2015 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 01, 2017 added it
It had bad language and the book is about a kid that gets into fights well he did'nt like school he liked to read. well the kid had his appendix removed. when he was sick
Vannessa Anderson
Each of us is born with a history already in place. ...While we live our own individual lives, what has gone before us, our history, always has some effect on us.

Bad Boy was Walter Milton Myers’ memoir and a perfect example of poor parenting and horrific teachers where positive communication was not practiced.

Walter Milton Myers was the fourth of five children and whose mother, Mary Dolly Green, died after the birth of her fifth child. George Myers, Walther’s father, who had two children from
Michelle Stimpson
Jan 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: taught, writing
This is a stark reminder of how important representation is. I couldn't help but imagine how much easier his high school years would have been if he'd seen himself in the literature he was consumed with. I don't think it is coincidence that the real breakthrough in his career came when he was introduced to the literature and mentorship of other black writers. One piece of advice really stood out: "He [John O. Killens] counseled me always to think of my body of work rather than to concentrate too ...more
Maggie Merillat
Dec 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Bad Boy was a pretty good book! This book is about Walter Dean Myers, a boy who wanted to be a writer. He would go to his school and get put down by so many people at his school, especially his teachers. He was very discouraged but he kept on dreaming about being a writer. He always loved to read and write and was so confident that he would end up becoming a writer.
I really liked reading the parts about his school in this book. I also enjoyed the parts where it showed the different racial issue
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I can't believe I haven't read this until now.

Despite a teacher's advice to "never stop writing," Myers skips school, gets involved with some gang members, joins the army, and finally ends up as a manual laborer. That teacher's words come back to him, however, and eventually he rediscovers how important it is to him to use his brain and write. He also discovers the short story "Sonny's Blues," and even meets James Baldwin. Until reading Baldwin, he didn't feel empowered to write about the urban
Emma Gagen
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I thought that this book was going to be a little easy for me, but after I read it, it turned out to be an amazing book. This boy, Walter Dean, is struggling with depression as he fights through racism and unequal rights in Harlem, New York. His only outlet is his reading and writing, but even that has gone dry. I absolutely loved this book and it's strong message!
Mar 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: adolescent-lit
Walter Dean Myers is an incredibly influential YA Author, and it was a pleasure to learn about his background. It was pretty slow, but he has a charming story-telling voice. It was powerful to learn about how he had overcome so much to get where he did: From a father who couldn't read and social injustice, to a successful author.
Elena Palomba
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
In this memoir, you are taken on the early life of a young buy, Walter. As Walter grows older he realizes that everywhere is not as racially fair as his home of Harlem, New York. Going through school, he frequently gets in trouble for his short temper and will to fight. Will he be able to go above the racial standards and grow to reach his full potential and follow his dreams? I like this book cause it showed a good inside point of view of racism. . I would recommend this book to anyone who is i ...more
Zakeema Wilson
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
This Book is truly inspiring to me. I say This Because I hide a lot of talents I have because I fear I wouldn't do anything with them as I get older. Talents such as poetry and singing I hide a lot because I feel I wouldn't make anything out of them. This book truly made me realize that I don't have to hide anything. I can express the way I feel or anything I want to express in my own way not caring who has to see me or who has to say something. The difference from me and the main character is t ...more
Nov 27, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
Sam Johnson
Oct 13, 2014 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
Sep 15, 2011 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 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 10, 2013 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 08, 2016 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.
Mar 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-nonfiction
An honest, unflinching account of Myers' challenging childhood and his struggle to accept himself as a reader and writer.
Vianca F
Dec 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
I thought of a memoir not having a story but instead a informative piece on a person . When I decided to read Bad boy I found that I was completely wrong about Memoirs and they were more than just information on a person but an adventure you get to go on as a person tells you about their life. A particular reason I enjoyed Bad Boy was because when reading a book I want to be able to understand and connect with the characters and Bad Boy started off with just that. “In thinking about what influen ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Language Arts 7 R...: Reading Log 1 6 Sep 22, 2012 03:38AM  
Language Arts 7 R...: Reading Log 1 5 Sep 22, 2012 03:33AM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: bad boy a memoir 1 3 Apr 22, 2012 12:08PM  
  • The Warrior's Heart: Becoming a Man of Compassion and Courage
  • The Legend of Buddy Bush
  • A Volcano Beneath the Snow: John Brown's War Against Slavery
  • Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat
  • My Thirteenth Winter: A Memoir
  • Knots in My Yo-Yo String: The Autobiography of a Kid
  • Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America
  • Bang!
  • Looking Back: A Book of Memories
  • When I Was Your Age, Volume One: Original Stories About Growing Up
  • Talkin' About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman
  • Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the Selma Voting Rights March
  • Getting Away with Murder: The True Story of the Emmett Till Case
  • Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice
  • Poetry for Young People: Langston Hughes
  • Call Me Maria
  • They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group
  • The Great and Only Barnum: The Tremendous, Stupendous Life of Showman P. T. Barnum
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
“Each of us is born with a history already in place” 4 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
More quotes…