This book was enjoyable from multiple standpoints. It was engaging and personable. It was compelling and sad. In short, it evoked a range of emotions that made it a memorable read.
The author, Wes Moore, keeps his readers engrossed by juxtaposing his story–beginning in childhood and culminating in his success as a serviceman and politician–alongside his not-so-fortunate counterpart (also named Wes Moore), who ends up in prison for life.
What I found most interesting was how two young men’s lives, who, coincidentally were given the same name at birth, could live mere blocks away from each other and yet end up in polar opposite circumstances in their adult lives. Wes Moore also noted this throughout his book, using it to underscore the importance of community resources, adult intervention, and positive steps that can be taken to change one’s outcome in life.
Perhaps what was most gripping about this book was the many visits the author took to the state prison to meet and learn about the man who shared his name, childhood, experiences, and yet found himself on the other side of the glass across from his condemned counterpart. How was it that these men could be on opposite sides of the class, opposite sides of society, and yet find more commonalities in their respective stories, than differences?
The Other Wes Moore was one of Oprah’s recommended readings, and with good reason. It speaks to the power of circumstances and, more importantly, calls into question our own individual responsibility to our neighbors, communities, and society at large. I couldn’t help but view my own life from a different perspective after reading this book because it made me recount times where influential people helped prevent certain things from happening. It causes you to be grateful for such people (as Wes Moore was), yet saddened by the fact that not everyone among us is as fortunate to have those same influences. This is a must read for anyone who can appreciate a story of tragedy, triumph, and irony that serves as nothing short of a need to reassess your own life and a call to action.