The Women Who Raised Me by Victoria Rowell and The Other Wes Moore

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Of Parents and Peers

Then: The Women Who Raised Me
By Victoria Rowell
352 pages; Harper

In her 2007 memoir, The Women Who Raised Me, Victoria Rowell, who was put into foster care as a baby, wrote movingly about the mentors and surrogate mothers who helped her grow up to be a successful dancer and actor.
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Now: The Other Wes Moore
By Wes Moore
256 pages; Spiegel & Grau

The Other Wes Moore highlights the transformative influence of caring adults by juxtaposing the life stories of two men—one the author of this memoir—with the same name. Born just a year apart in the same rough Baltimore neighborhood, both Wes Moores were raised by single mothers. One became a Rhodes scholar and business leader. The other is serving a life sentence for murder. "The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his," writes Moore, who spent hours interviewing his doppelgänger in prison. Moore vividly and powerfully describes not just the culture of the streets but how it feels to be a boy growing up in a world where violence makes you a man, school seems irrelevant, and drug dealing is a respected career choice. As the other Moore gets pulled irretrievably into this world, the author is rescued—unwillingly at first—by his family's sacrifice and forceful actions. "My mother made the decision to intervene," he writes. "[She]...decided that overdoing it was better than doing nothing at all." — Karen Holt

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