The subtitle “One Name, Two Fates” is slightly contradicted by the highlighted quote “The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his.” There may have been two different outcomes, but as the army veteran Wes Moore that authors the book acknowledges, the two were on similar paths for a large part of their childhood.
Author Wes had the advantage of a more stable household at first, until his father died of a treatable illness when misdiagnosed at an Urgent Care center, likely in part due to his skin color (does EVERY book have to have an echo of our current situation? This wasn’t even my family and I was heartbroken reading it, knowing it still happens today), whereas the “other” Wes Moore, who is currently incarcerated for his role in a botched robbery that resulted in the death of a police officer, had a father absent by choice.
From there, their paths converge – their strong single mothers moving into neighborhoods that encouraged the acting out and skipping school both boys engaged in – only to diverge again when Author Wes’ mother sends him to military school (although he nearly spoils this opportunity by his own admission, attempting to escape). Author Wes turns his life around only through significant hardship (his mother has to take out loans to afford the school, to say nothing of overcoming his resistance to authority), but Other Wes lacks the resources.
Reviewing this book after Evicted is frustrating; Moore acknowledges the state of the neighborhood in shaping his and Other Wes’ childhoods, and Evicted provides a suggestion for improved housing at its conclusion. That we cannot go back in time and help both Wes Moores is regrettable but understandable. That we are not preventing more is infuriating.