Author, Wes Moore (known as Moore) grew up with a mother and two sisters, and soon loses his dad due to a heart attack. After the passing of his father Moore’s family moves to the Bronx to stay with his mother Joy’s parents. Soon Joy realizes that the Bronx is not like it used to be and Moore explains his new neighborhood as a “war zone”. In the long run Moore faces many challenges both academically and mentally as he tries to escape the drug epidemic in the Bronx. He eventually gets sent to a military school (after receiving probation from his private school) where he learned to cherish the opportunity that saved his life.Wes on the other hand grew up with a mother and an older brother Tony who got involved in the drug dealing game at a very young age. Wes’s first experience with the police was when he was just a kid and he got into a fight with a neighborhood boy. When Wes pulled out a knife, the police put him in handcuffs and that was his first arrest. Following in his brothers footsteps, Wes gets into weed and than selling other drugs like cocaine. Wes becomes a father of four, with two different mothers and now has lots of pressure to be able to provide for his family. Wes describes the feeling of becoming a young father as “a point of no return”. Wanting to regain his life back, Wes attends and graduates from the job Corps and then receives a number of temporary jobs, but none able to pay the bills. Wes ends up back where he started and begins cooking crack. When Wes decided Job Corps wasn’t for him his last resort was robbery, where he earned a life sentence.
The story switches from the author’s point of view, to him telling the other Wes Moore’s story. Moore compares their struggles, and contrast their ways of getting out of the bad news they lived around. He shows the point of view from both mothers and how hard they tried to steer their boys in the right direction. Moore creates a narrative with the purpose of giving young kids hope that need it, and Wes shares his story to explain what happens in reality if you get caught in the games he got caught in.
I enjoyed the way the author incorporated both sides from his childhood. He did a good job explaining how he got in the situations he got into and how each experience shaped him into the man he is now. I appreciate the willingness and vulnerability of Wes when he openly shares his life stories while he is behind bars. Without his portion of the story, It would be more of a personal anecdote rather than a parable meant for young people living in conditions as described in the novel. Moore gives his opinion of second chances and how he differs from Wes. “From everything you told me, both of us did some pretty wrong stuff when we were younger. And both of us had second chances. But if the situation or the context where you make the decisions don’t change, then second chances don’t mean too much, huh?”
After attending military school, Moore never looked back at his past. He never turned to his old habits and he continued to build his success. Wes had no option but to relive all his previous mistakes and most importantly his final robery and murder as he will sit in jail for the remainder of his life.
Reading this story educated me on the lives of poverty stricken kids that I had never learned much about. I saw how hopeless these kids were and just what it took to bring them their separate ways. I learned about both the power and the destructiveness a second chance can have, and what it takes to dig yourself out of a hole you had no option but to be placed in.