The objective of this study is to conduct a critical book review of the book entitled "The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates" written by Wes Moore (2011) and published by Random House LLC. Williams (2010) reports that both men in the book have the same name however, "one is Rhodes Scholar and John Hopkins graduate who was a speaker at the 2008 Democratic Convention. The other is a former drug dealer, convicted of murdering a police officer and serving a life sentence at Jessup Correctional Institution in Maryland." (p.1) In addition, Williams reports that both of these men, named Wes Moore "were profiled in the Baltimore Sun for their deeds." (2010, p.1)
Both of these young men were raised at the same time and in the same area that was high in poverty and plagued by drugs and crime. Each began school at the same time and each had brushes with the law due to committing petty crimes and all of this about the same time. However, the lives of these two men, both unnamed Wes Moore "took dramatically different paths." (the Wes Moore who wrote the book entitled "The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates" wasn't able to dismiss the coincidence or the idea that he and the other Wes Moore shared more than just their name or reports in the same newspaper about their petty crimes. We Moore the author upon finding out that the other Wes Moore had been convicted of murder and was serving life without parole mailed a letter to the other West Moore and asked questions that had plagued him asking the other Wes Moore who he was actually and how did it happen that he had killed someone and was now in prison without a chance to parole. The correspondence turned into a relationship that lasted for quite a few years. Wes Moore, the author visited the other Wes Moore in prison and discovered that each had grown up in neighborhoods that were similar and neither Wes Moore had a father in the home and both had particularly difficult childhood experiences. Each Wes Moore had hung out "on similar corners with similar crews and both had run into trouble with the police." (Waco Chamber, 2011, p. 3) Most importantly, Wes Moore, the author learned that "at each stage of their young lives they had run into trouble with the police. At each stage of their young lives they had come across similar moments of decisions, yet their choices and the people in their lives would lead them to astonishingly different destinies." (Waco Chamber, 2011, p. 3) Wes Moore the author wrote the book in an attempt to relate how the two young men, so similar, from such similar backgrounds, would have such very different and contrasting destinies.
II. The Home Lives of the Two Wes Moores
As the book informs the readers, both of the young Wes Moores had mothers who worked very hard and who were interested in the best chance for their sons. However, the difference that is noted is the response of each of these mothers to their son's challenges and obstacles. For example, the mother of Wes Moore, the author was raised by parents who had received a college education and had spent her entire life working toward achieving for not only herself but for her family. Wes Moore, the author's mother relocated several times in an attempt to find a more stable environment in which to rear her kids and she also worked multiple jobs in able to send her children to private schools. At the time that Wes Moore, the author appeared to be headed into the wrong lifestyle with the wrong set of friends, she made emotional and economic sacrifices in order to place her son into military school. She did not allow for herself nor for her children to give in to the negativity in their environment. In contrast, the other Wes Moore's mother, while initially attempting to resist the negativity in her and her child's environment did eventually wax weak and gave up and this resulted in her children viewing violence as a given and something acceptable to use in search of resolutions to problems in their lives. The other Wes Moore lives out a life exposed to his father's residence, The Murphy Homes Projects which were constructed in 1962 and reported to be named after "George Murphy a legend in Baltimore for his work as a groundbreaking educator, but just as often they went by a self-explanatory nickname, Murder Homes." (Moore, 2011, p. 27) These were some of Baltimore's most dangerous projects and it is reported that the walls and floors were "coated with filth and graffiti." (Moore, 2011, p. 27) The fluorescent tubes partially broken flickered in the cinderblock hallways, the elevators were always broke and the stairways urine scented. It is stated that he drug game "was everywhere, with a gun handle protruding from the top of every tenth's teenagers' waistline." (Moore, 2011, p. 27) The other Wes viewed his brother tony as a "certified gansta" since tony had begun dealing drugs at Murphy Homes prior to the age of ten. It is stated that the eyes of Tony "inspired fear" and Moore states that the term in the hood for Tony's face that a "cold, frozen stare" or the "ice grille" characterized by a "look of blank hostility that makes two intense feelings -- the fire evoked by grille (which is also slang for face), and the cold of the ice." (Moore, 2011, p. 28) Moore states that the tough facade "is just a way to hide a deeper pain or depression that kids don't know how to deal with. A bottomless chasm of insecurity and self-doubt that gnaws at them." (Moore, 2011, p. 28) Moore importantly states that young boys "are more likely to believe in thems3elves if they know that there's someone somewhere who shares that belief. To carry the burden of belief alone is too much for most young shoulders." (2011, p. 28)
III. Diverging of the Paths of the Two Boys Named Wes Moore
Wes Moore, the author and his family moved to live with his mother's parents not long after his father passed away. His grandfather was a retired minister and his grandmother a retired elementary school teacher who had taught in the Bronx. Wes, the author was very happy about moving in with his grandparents although he could tell his mother was quite nervous. Wes, the author reports that when his grandparents first moved to the United States that they set a goal to purchase the house that they lived in on Pauling Avenue. The house was their "stake in their new country. America allowed them to create a life they couldn't have dreamed of in their home countries of Jamaica and Cuba." (Moore, 2011, p. 49) However, his grandparents spoke of how "drugs and violence had slowly crept in" to their neighborhood and how "fear and apathy had become the new norm in what had once been a close-knit community" and they even spoke of something that Web had not heard before and that was 'crack'. (Moore, 2011, p. 50) Wes the author's grandfather wanted to follow his footsteps in the ministry and lead his own congregation however, he had to finish school. After marrying Wes' grandmother, his grandfather left both his newly wedded wife and homeland to attend "Lincoln University, a historically black college in Pennsylvania." (Moore, 2011, p. 50) When his grandfather first arrived at college a man took his to get the clothes he needed as the ones he was wearing from Jamaica were not suitable for the winter. It is stated in Moore's book that "the shipping excursion was the first of many encounters between my grandfather and this man, who would become a mentor, teacher, and friend to him. They spent many hours talking about the changing world and the dawning of independence and liberation movements across the African Diaspora." (Moore, 2011, p. 41) Wes, the author speaks of his new home with his grandparents and the environment in which it was situated stated "whole blocks were abandoned buildings blackened and hollowed by fires set by arsonists…drug fiends were still making sue of those abandoned buildings for activities that would've blown my mind. I walked past neighbors whose eyes overflowed with desperation and expression, people who had watched their once-proud neighborhood become synonymous with the collapse of the American inner city." (Moore, 2011, p. 43) Moore states that as he traveled along the cracked sidewalks in his grandparent's neighborhood that he "passed a new signifier or urban decay…with every step." (Moore, 2011, p. 43) Moore stated that he quickly learned that the basketball court in the Bronx had something special about it "The basketball court is a strange patch of neutral ground, a meeting place for every element of a neighborhood's cohort of…