BAD BOY by Walter Dean Myers

BAD BOY

A Memoir
Age Range: 12 & up
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Catalogues of books alternate with battles against educational authorities in this memoir from one of the deans of young-adult literature. Myers (The Journal of Biddy Owens, below, etc.) paints a picture of a boy in love with words, an avid reader, and later an enthusiastic writer, but also one whose quick, violent temper kept him in constant trouble. From a cozy childhood in the embrace of his foster parents to an alienated and depressed adolescence, Myers consciously sets out to identify those elements that made him what he is: a black writer of books for all children. One of the book’s strengths, no surprise, is its careful and loving depiction of Harlem’s black community, and readers familiar with Myers’s other work will recognize in many of the figures and situations he describes the inspirations for his fiction. Another is Myers’s wry commentary on his youthful actions and attitudes: when describing his spiritual uncertainty, for instance, he writes, “I wanted to hear a big voice on the phone say ‘Yea, verily, this is me, God. It’s all good, my man, and will be ultracool in the end.’ ” No life can be as tightly plotted as a novel, though, and the text sometimes moves unevenly from anecdote to unrelated (albeit interesting) anecdote, hindering a smooth narrative flow. His attempt to show how his life was constructed, moreover, results in a rather deterministic text from which one has the sense that much was left out, and his musings on the effects of institutionalized racism on his development as a young man and a writer become didactic interruptions plunked into a story which likely could speak for itself. Myers is arguably one of the most important writers of children’s books of our age, however, and this glimpse into his own childhood is wonderfully valuable, fascinating, and even inspiring. (Autobiography. 12+)

Pub Date: May 31st, 2001
ISBN: 0-06-029523-6
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2001




WORKS BY WALTER DEAN MYERS:

ChildrenLOCKDOWN by Walter Dean Myers
by Walter Dean Myers
AdultTHE JOURNAL OF JOSHUA LOPER by Walter Dean Myers
by Walter Dean Myers
AdultMALCOLM X by Walter Dean Myers
by Walter Dean Myers
AdultMONSTER by Walter Dean Myers
by Walter Dean Myers

MORE BY WALTER DEAN MYERS

ChildrenJUBA! by Walter Dean Myers
by Walter Dean Myers
ChildrenMONSTER by Walter Dean Myers
by Walter Dean Myers
ChildrenON A CLEAR DAY by Walter Dean Myers
by Walter Dean Myers

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

ChildrenDISCOVERING WES MOORE by Wes Moore
by Wes Moore
ChildrenTHEY CALL ME A HERO by Daniel Hernandez
by Daniel Hernandez
ChildrenLOVERS & HATERS by Calvin Slater
by Calvin Slater
ChildrenSTORIES OF MY LIFE by Katherine Paterson
by Katherine Paterson