Poverty, education, violence, and crime – these are all important issues in the true story of The Other Wes Moore, a captivating memoir that proves anyone can attain happiness, no matter their circumstances. Set in the late 1900s, it tells the parallel tale of two young boys with the same name who unknowingly grow up in the same neighborhood in the decaying city of Baltimore. Their circumstances are incredibly similar, so how does one end up imprisoned for life on a murder conviction, while the other becomes a Rhodes Scholar, one of the youngest officers in the U.S. military, and a White House Fellow?
Growing up poor and fatherless, both Wes Moores had families struggling to feed and clothe them, and desperately trying to keep them in school and safe from the bad influences that surrounded them. But as money grew tighter and both families couldn’t afford to spend every waking hour watching their sons, staying alive became the only thing on the boys’ minds. They gave in to the drugs, crime, and violence of the streets, and began to slip down the wrong path.
This memoir is not only for human rights activists, but anyone looking for the truth of how easily a life can change. Readers will find themselves sympathizing with the criminal Wes Moore, suddenly grasping just how alike they are, as the author Wes Moore interviews him in the prison where he remains to this day.
Heartbreaking yet heart-warming, this motivational story teaches the crucial importance of choosing to stay on the right path, no matter how tempting the wrong one can be in times of darkness.
The author hopes his story will “provide young people with a way to identify with success as a possibility, and a reason to believe that a story that begins with struggle, apathy, and the pain of loss can still have a happy ending.” Whether readers believe it was coincidence or a greater reason that led the men to separate fates, everyone can close this book with a new outlook on life.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.