Jerry McGill’s inspiring short memoir tells the story of coping with disability and the injustice of a life changed in a moment.
Originally self-published, Dear Marcus was acquired by an editor at Random House thanks to a piece in the New York Review of Books. That editor recently shared her story in The Ampersand, the Spiegel & Grau tumblr.
I also recommend this letter from the author about his experience sharing his story in the school where he used to teach, and his hope that his book makes it into more school conversations. Thanks to its accessible, direct writing style, subject matter, and length, this books seems like a natural choice for teens.
* MCGILL, Jerry. Dear Marcus: A Letter to the Man Who Shot Me. 192p. photos. Spiegel & Grau. 2012. Tr $22. ISBN 978-0-8129-9307-3. LC 2011031251.
Adult/High School–McGill was 13 when he was shot in the back while walking home late on New Year’s Eve. What happened to him after that unfolds in letters to his assailant, who was never found–or even looked for. McGill was an inner city black boy being raised by his mother, but his life was far from stereotypical. These letters take readers on an unforgettable and intriguing journey as Jerome came to terms with his paralysis and his life. Themes of violence, hope, despair, forgiveness, anger, and living with a disability are explored both lightly and deeply, humorously and profoundly, and always honestly through stories about his relationships with family, friends, nurses, and others that crossed his path, all in a conversation and relationship with the person who shot him. The complexity of issues is presented with stunning and distilled simplicity. This is a literary page-turner that explores the reverberations of an action and a moment, the ways in which perpetrators and victims are connected. Letters alternate with short movie-script chapters and themed photographs of the profile or shadow of a young black boy, pavement, or chain link fences. From the packaging, to the insights, to the defiance and challenge of all assumptions, to the writing, this is a book that sophisticated teens will love.–Amy Cheney, Alameda County Library, Juvenile Hall, CA