• The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore


    Wes Moore is an Army combat veteran, business leader, youth advocate, and national bestselling author. His first book, The Other Wes Moore, became New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller.

    Today, Wes Moore’s mission is to help young people succeed and make the right choices through education and awareness alongside the support of their parents/guardians, educators, and mentors. Moore is the Founder and CEO of BridgeEdU, a college platform that provides support for high school students transitioning to college.   

    The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates is a memoir about two boys with the same name and born blocks apart within a year of each other. Both grew up fatherless in Baltimore neighborhoods and had difficult childhoods. Their mothers worked several jobs to raise their children and moved several times to change their environment. They both were subject to the pitfalls of urban youth: racism, rebellion, violence, drugs and dealing.

    One grew up to be a well-respected member of society as a Rhodes Scholar and social entrepreneur, while the other was serving a life sentence in prison for murdering an off-duty police officer. This book reveals moments in both boys lives which change their futures from being each others. Also, this book used their lives as a way of thinking about choices and accountability, not just for each of us as individuals, but for all of us as a society.

    At the end of the book he writes a call to action. “Small interactions and effortless acts of kindness can mean the difference between failure and success, pain and pleasure—or becoming the people we loathe or love to become. We are more powerful than we realize, and I urge you to internalize the meanings of this remarkable story and unleash your own power.” Wes compiled a list of more than 200 youth-serving organizations that readers can use to help youth. Some of these organizations focus on advocacy, after-school programs, education, family strength and mentoring, social services and more.


    “But 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. Young boys are more likely to believe in themselves 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.” Wes 2

    “These forks in the road can happen so fast for young boys; within months or even weeks, their journeys can take a decisive and possibly irrevocable turn. With no intervention—or the wrong intervention—they can be lost forever.” Wes 1

    “He was skating by, and since this was his third elementary school, he was able to do so with fairly little notice. Wes didn’t act up in class, which kept him under the radar; his teachers spend 90% of their dealing with the 5% of kids who did. Wes’s teachers gave his mother reports that said he was unmotivated, but Wes just claimed boredom. He always felt he was smart than the other kids in class and that the work just didn’t hold his interest.”  Wes 2

    “I knew, but I broke it down for Justin: the problem wasn’t what I knew or didn’t know, the problem was that they didn’t understand my situation. My long trip to and from school every day, my missing father, my overworked mother, the changing routes I took ever day from the train just so no one with bad intentions could case my routine. I continued throwing excuses at Justin but started to wither under the heat of his glare. Justin had it worse than I did but was still one of the best performing kids in the class. My litany of excuses trailed off.” Wes 1

    “This game didn’t require studying or exams. It didn’t require a degree or vocational skills. All he needed was ambition. And guts. And, as Wes was soon to understand, an ability to life with constant fear. But Wes wasn’t focused on that yet. He didn’t bother thinking about Tony’s warnings, that no matter what job or position you took within it, this was a game for keeps—you could be in jail or dead in a matter of months.” Wes 2

    “If you won’t listen, that’s on you. You have potential to do so much more, go so much further. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink right?” Wes 2

    “My academic failures had forced her to go through stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.” Wes 1

    “My desperation for her support was in constant tension with my desperation for independence and freedom…In other words, I was a teenager, deathly fearful of disappointing her but too prideful to act like it mattered. Now I was afraid this incident might turn my only stalwart supporter against me.” Wes 1  

    “Wes spent much of his adolescence incarcerated, and he knew that occasional bids in the pen were part of the game. But he’d never figured this. Maybe it was because he’d never thought long term about his life at all. Early losses condition you to believe that short-term plans are always smarter. Now Wes’s mind wandered to the long term for the first time. Finally, he could see his future.” Wes 2

    “When we’re young, it sometimes seems as if the world doesn’t exist outside our city, our block, our house, our room. We make decisions based on what we see in that limited world and follow the only models available…What changed was that I found myself surrounded by people—starting with my mom, grandparents, uncles, and aunts and leading to a string of wonderful role models and mentors—who kept pushing me to see more than what was directly in front of my, to see the boundless possibilities of the wider world and the unexplored possibilities within myself. People who taught me that no accident of birth—not being black or relatively poor, being from Baltimore of the Bronx or fatherless—would ever define or limit me. In other words, they helped me to discover what it means to be free.” Wes 1

    Try again. Fail again. Fail better… failing doesn’t make us a failure. But not trying to do better, to be better, does make us fools.” Wes 1

    Courtesy of Kim Nguyen, Sonoma State University Graduate School of Counseling, Spring 2017  
    Posted 4/25/2017