Autobiography of my Dead Brother
Walter Dean Myers
Page Count: 224
Age Range: 13 and up
Autobiography of my Dead Brother by Walter Dean Myers is a novel about growing up and staying true to who you are in the midst of tragedy and violence. The story takes place on the streets of a crimeridden neighborhood in New York. Jesse, the main character, is a fifteen year old who is good at drawing and who records the world around him in his sketchbook. His best friend, Rise is a few years older. Rise starts running with a new crowd and gets involved in gang activity. He believes that he is in control of his situation, but Jesse isn’t so sure that he is. He sketches Rise and the city around them, trying to make sense of a changing world. Jesse has a lot of respect for his friend, but he also has a gut feeling that the choices Rise is making are foolish, even dangerous.
This is a great read for teens, especially guys, who feel conflicted by the decisions that others are making and/or who are in the process of navigating the pain and confusion of growing up. The novel includes cool comic illustrations scribbled in the margins, meant to be Jesse’s artwork. The way the novel is written is easy to read and easy to relate to, and it covers gang violence, drugs and crime without overdramatizing them.