for Autobiography of My Dead Brother
by Walter Dean Myers
and Christopher Myers
A novel about violence and death, about family and survival, about gangs and drugs, and the way the seduction of wealth can prey on teens offers hope as well as despair. Walter Dean Myers takes a hard look at what many young black boys face as they enter adolescence in depressed urban environments. Jesse is writing and drawing the “autobiography” of his best friend and blood brother, Rise, whose choices are beginning to take him down a dangerous path. A talented artist, Jesse expresses himself and his anxieties about the boys’ deteriorating friendship in striking comic art and doodles (created by Christopher Myers) as well as in his descriptions of the waste that he sees in the streets of Harlem. While the action scenes of the story are strong, the most unique aspect of this novel is the connection between the art and text. Jesse’s sketches are moving portraits of the people in his life. His comic panels offer a deeper look at his hopes, fears, and unanswered questions. In addition to Jesse and Rise, Walter Dean Myers has a number of keenly developed secondary characters. The boys who do seem to make it through the minefield of gangs and violence with their lives and identities in tact are those that have something tangible to work for. For Jesse, it is his art. For another boy, CJ, it is his love for music. The Myers’s use art to cleverly tell the story of the power of art and passion to sustain. (Ages 13–17)
CCBC Choices 2006 . © Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2006. Used with permission.
The thing was that me and Rise were blood brothers, but sometimes I really didn't know him. . . .
And so Jesse fills his sketchbook with drawings and portraits of his blood brother, Rise, and his comic strip, Spodi Roti and Wise, as he makes sense of the complexities of friendship, loyalty, and loss in a neighborhood where drive—bys, vicious gangs, and abusive cops are everyday realities.
Printz Award winner Walter Dean Myers delivers an unforgettable novel about life's hardest lessons, illustrated by Caldecott Honor artist Christopher Myers.
Publisher description retrieved from Google Books.