Posts Tagged 'gang'

The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore

otherwesmoore

Genre:  Non-fiction

# of pages:  239

RAC:  Yes

Wes Moore was born in a tough neighborhood in Baltimore and eventually ended up in military school where he went on to become a very successful Rhodes Scholar.  Meanwhile, another Wes Moore, born in the same neighborhood mere months apart from Wes ended up in jail for life for murder.  These two Wes Moore’s do not meet until adulthood when their lives and futures are already set, but when the author of this book learned of the other Wes Moore’s existence he felt compelled to visit him in prison and get to know him better.  He writes this book to ask what factors sent one Wes Moore down one path and the other Wes Moore down another.  Family support?  Opportunities?  Personal choices?

This story follows both Wes Moore’s lives as they make decisions to ultimately change their paths in two very different directions despite many similarities in the circumstances they were born into.  Both Wes’s grew up without a father, but for very different reasons.  Both Wes’s had chances to escape the life of crime and drugs their surroundings provided.  Both had hard working mothers who tried their best to raise them alone.  How then did one end up a war hero while the other ended up in jail for life?  This book asks difficult questions at a time when too many headlines focus on terrible things that have happened to kids from tough neighborhoods and home lives.  The story can get a bit confusing at times as many characters are introduced quickly, but the plot is interesting and many students will enjoy the honesty present in the text and subject matter.

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When I was Joe by Keren David

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  364

RAC:  Yes

Ty witnesses an attack in a park and decides to go to the police to explain what he saw.  He has no idea that by doing this he is placing his family and himself in terrible danger.  When he is allowed to go back to his apartment to pick up a few things the building he lives in is bombed.  Ty and his mom are sent into witness protection and Ty becomes Joe.  Joe’s life is a lot better than Ty’s and Ty starts to realize how much he hated his life before with the gang violence, bullies, and academic pressure from his mom.  As Joe starts to succeed, make friends, and even join sports teams he constantly fears that someone will find out who he is and turn him over to those who want to hurt him.  Plus, he is not telling the whole truth about what happened that fateful night in the park.  Can he forget his old life and become Joe forever?  Will he and his family be safe?  Will the truth ever come out?

This story is interesting in many ways and really encourages the reader to think about what it would mean to have to leave everything behind and become a new person.  It also realistically portrays how such a change can affect a family dynamic.  Ty’s story is realistic and you see many sides to him.  The story drags a bit near the end and readers will be frustrated to see his story does not come to a conclusion, but anyone who likes action and suspense will enjoy this title.  Recommended for teenage boys especially.

We Beat the Street by The Three Doctors

Genre:  Nonfiction

Age Level:  12 and up

# of Pages:  183

RAC Book: Yes

Awards:  Iowa Teen Award Winner 2009-2010

This true story follows three young men as they grow up in tough neighborhoods and through sheer luck manage to escape big trouble with the law.  They find themselves at an informational meeting about a program that helps inner city kids become doctors.  The three make a pact to see it through to the end.  There are many times when one or another wants to quit and the other two have to remind him of why he wants to be a doctor.   The story tells of some of the trouble these boys got into as young kids and why it is so difficult to even go to college from where they come from.

This story does try to tell the story as accurately as possible.  The neighborhood friends and scrapes with the law are all mentioned in vivid detail, but in each instance they somehow manage to escape unscathed.  There are many young men out there who are not so lucky.  The pact was a good way to keep each other motivated and it is unlikely that all three would have succeeded without the other two.  Readers who liked Hole in My Life will like this one, but the writing is not as sophisticated as that one and often details are glossed over in order to move the story along faster.  An interesting story for those who like nonfiction.


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