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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Highly popular YA writer Walter Dean Myers takes a slightly different tack than usual by penning memories of his oft-troubled childhood in the aptly titled Bad Boy. Growing up in the 1940s in Harlem proved to be a mixed bag for Myers, one filled with both opportunities and obstacles. From gang warfare and racism to the dark secret his father kept for years, Myers's tale is a testament to the power of love, hope, and perseverance.
Though Myers's natural mother died shortly after he was born, leaving him with no memories of her, his father's second wife stepped in to fill the role. Even as a toddler, Myers showed signs of being problematic. Though everyone generally agreed he was bright, he was also restless, curious, and prone to fighting. From the time he entered kindergarten until the day he missed his graduation because he'd been skipping school so long he didn't realize the year had ended, Myers was a challenge to his parents, teachers, and even some of his friends. Some of his problems stemmed from a severe speech impediment, which often masked his intelligence and made communication with others difficult. But in addition to that -- or perhaps, at times, because of it -- Myers showed little respect for authority, endured severe bouts of depression, and hung out with several questionable characters he called friends. The one constant in his life, which also ultimately proved to be his salvation, was his love of books and writing, a love that obviously continued into adulthood.
Like the stories he writes, Myers's tale serves as a testament to the power of possibilities and potential, even when faced with the greatest of odds. Any teenager who's ever felt lost, persecuted, or misunderstood can relate to Myers's experiences and can take heart from his ultimate triumph over several types of adversity. (Beth Amos)