Sunday, March 1, 2015

Bad Boy by Walter Dean Myers

Myers was a literary giant and extremely prolific author who wrote boks in a variety of genres. He wrote some books that dealt with inner city life and you felt that he knew what he was talking about, that he had lived that experience. In this autobiographical book he talks about his life in an accessible way. A young reader can empathize with some of the themes he discusses despite the fact that Myers is a child of the post World War II era. We learn some interesting facts about young Walter in this book, such as why he uses all three for example.

Myers recounts his academic prowess and subsequent realization that such behavior was deemed masculine. A telling line in the book is when he describes having to carry books home in a bag so that the neighborhood boys would not tease him or worse. Another aspect of the book that young readers may empathize with is his awkwardness around girls, he does not talk about a girlfriend or serious relationship.

Though Myers does not go into detail about segregation and the unfortunate treatment of non whites during that era, he describes his best friend Eric *a white boy) with whom he gets along really well. As the boys grew older,  there are places that Eric can go where young Walter was unwelcome, a difficult realization for him.

His parents wanted to see him succeed in school and Myers realized early on that education was the only way for him to not have a tough time as his parents did. His father could not read and was proud of his son's accomplishments but one gets the sense that he was somewhat unsure of how to feel. It is Myers' mom who seemed to be his true champion as she is the one who intervenes when Myers interest in school began to wane.

Overall this is a good read with the compelling writing which we are used to seeing in Myers' books. It is not a stirring book however when compared to other coming-of-age novels by other African American writers. I do however recommend it for readers aged 11+.

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