What I Happen to Be Reading At the Moment

"A thirteen-year-old is a kaleidoscope of different personalities, if not in most ways a mere figment of her own imagination. At that age, what and who you are depends largely on what book you happen to be reading at the moment.”

 

While not 13 anymore, the desire to read almost anything and everything in order to read for fun and for experience is still around. I'm currently working on my PhD in a physical science, but I love to read and books are one of my non-science hobbies.

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates - Wes  Moore The Other Wes Moore was required as part of my university's summer reading program. The premise of this double memoir is that two outwardly similar young men, both African American and who both lived close to each other in Baltimore, Maryland, end up in two very different positions in life (one is a convicted felon serving a life sentence and the other is a Fulbright Scholar who has interned in the office of the Secretary of State). My main issue with this memoir is that it seems over simplified. Of course, being a memoir, the goal of the Fulbright Scholar Wes Moore was to show how a different series of choices made a difference in the lives of both men. Alternating chapters told the story of the convicted felon Wes Moore, and my major issue with these was that Fulbright Moore wrote them, sometimes in a very narrative style, instead of the man who actually experienced the events that lead him down a road to a shooting death of an off duty cop during a robbery. Moreover, Fulbright Moore never claims that one event was instrumental in changing his 'fate' compared to the felon Moore, though there are some differences that he doesn't acknowledge until the afterword. Though both Moores were raised by their mothers and their mothers' extended families, Fulbright Moore had parents who had both finished university degrees while felon Moore's mother only had some college before her Pell Grant was cut. There are so many subtleties that could be addressed when taking on the issues of poverty, violence, and how young people can break those cycles, and these were not focused on. Of course this is also a biography/memoir, and so a large discussion of the links between socioeconomic status, crime, and education was not appropriate. However, some additional context to these experiences would have strengthened the narrative. While reading this memoir, I was especially reminded of Dr. Ben Carson's Gifted Hands and his own comments about his young life. He was raised by a single mother and also faced with choices similar to the Wes Moores. Dr. Carson's single mother valued education and forced him to keep learning even when he was behind in elementary school. Though these cases are anecdotal, they seem to indicate that education is key in 'getting out' of a cycle of poverty. This double memoir does raise major questions about poverty, crime, and education and how much a choice (or series of choices) can make a difference in lives of otherwise outwardly similar individuals in challenging circumstances. Fulbright Moore, from his introduction and other comments in the work, suggests that even in unfortunate circumstances that choices are more important. I would have liked to hear, in his own words, from felon Moore about how he made different choices.

Currently reading

Native Son
Richard Wright
The Great Glass Sea
Josh Weil
The Elder Edda
Anonymous, Andrew Orchard