“The Other Wes Moore” explores the lives of two young Black men coming of age during the same time period in similar neighborhoods and ironically enough with the same name. (What are the odds?) They both experience adolescent bumps and bruises. But, their lives widely diverge setting one on the path to prison and the other to becoming a Rhodes Scholar.
The Book of Harlan by Bernice McFadden tells the story of a Black musician from Harlem who travels to Paris around the time the city falls to the Nazis. But it’s about much more. It also covers moments from the Black experience from about the 1920’s to the 1960’s/1970’s.
In some ways Manchild in the Promised Land is a book about a rambunctious boy and his group of friends coming of age in the 1940s-1950s. In a different place and if Claude Brown were a different race, this could have been an innocent and heart-warming story. But, on the gritty streets of Harlem, Claude’s life is rife with violence, crime, and despair from a young age.
The Corner by David Simon and Edward Burns is one of the most saddening and inspiring books I’ve ever read. The book follows the lives of residents near the corner of West Fayette and Monroe Streets in West Baltimore over the course of a year in the early 90’s. The authors lay bare how a history of poverty, crime, and drug addiction tore apart the neighborhood, families, and individuals.