Dramatic narrative selected for summer reading program

June 3, 2014

By Grace Haskin
ECU News Services

“The Other Wes Moore” by Wes Moore has been selected as the 2014 Pirate Read at East Carolina University. All incoming students are asked to read the book before beginning their first semester.
Wes Moore

“The Other Wes Moore” is a true story about two young boys with the same name, who grow up in the same city and live in similar neighborhoods. One boy grows up to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated combat veteran and business leader, while the other boy serves a life sentence in prison for his involvement in the death of a police officer.

When the author Moore learns about the other Wes Moore, he is bothered by the disturbing coincidence and writes him a letter in prison asking two questions: Who are you? How did this happen?

The letter leads to dozens of letters and prison visits, and Moore finds that he has even more in common with the other Moore than he originally thought. They both were born within a year of each other, raised by single mothers and had confrontations with the police.

Moore compares their two stories and shows how decisions made at an early age and the presence or absence of role models can affect one’s life course.

Karen Smith, co-chair of the Pirate Read committee, said “The Other Wes Moore” was picked because of its intriguing story. “It focuses on a lot of different areas: race, the judicial system, leadership and socio-economic status,” said Smith.

The Pirate Read committee hopes the book will make students think about their privileges and challenges, and what other people have experienced. “Hopefully the students will see that they can be mentors and leaders to other students,” said Smith.

Wes Moore will speak at ECU on Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. in Wright Auditorium.

“Pirate Read has been designed to challenge students to read and to give them an introduction to what academic life will be like at the university, but also to give them a common experience with students who have read that text,” said Smith.

Past Pirate Read selections include “It Happened on the Way to War,” “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” and “Picking Cotton.” This is the seventh year of the Pirate Read program.