A Book Summary of "Bad Boy: A Memoir" by Walter Dean Myers

by Kimberly Hurd
Myers has written many books based on his experiences as a rebellious teen in Harlem.

Myers has written many books based on his experiences as a rebellious teen in Harlem.

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Walter Dean Myers, who grew up in Harlem in the 1940s, has written numerous books for young adults that examine interesting periods in American history and personal struggles with which his readers can relate. Myers used his own life as inspiration for many of his books, but "Bad Boy: A Memoir" is the real story of this influential author's life.


Walter Dean Myers was born in West Virginia in 1937 but grew up in Harlem, New York with his adoptive parents. As a rebellious teen, he dropped out of Stuyvesant High School and joined the army. Myers was inspired by a teacher to take up writing and he has gone on to publish 85 books, including novels, children's literature, poetry, biographies and historical fiction. He received many prestigious awards for his work, such as the Coretta Scott King award. Myers' son, Christopher, has illustrated some of his books.

Plot Summary

As a child, Myers was plagued by a speech impediment but he was also intelligent and had a love of reading. Combine this with his poverty-stricken family and the racial struggles of African Americans in the 1940s and the result was a quick-tempered, rebellious boy. He turned away from school and spent more time on the streets. "Bad Boy: A Memoir" spans Myers' early life, his entry into elementary school and his experiences growing up in New York playing basketball, reading books and getting into trouble. The memoir tells his life story through his late teen years when he joins the army.


"Bad Boy: A Memoir" takes place in Myers' childhood home town of Harlem, New York. The book details his adventures (or misadventures) around New York City in well-known locations. Much of his story, however, takes place in his home, his schools and his neighborhood in Harlem from the 1940s through 1954.

Further Reading

Fans of "Bad Boy: A Memoir" should try some of Myers' other books about life as an African American teenager. "Fallen Angels," published in 1988, details the life of a young African American man who joins the army and is sent to fight in the Vietnam War. Another griping novel by Myers' is titled "Monster" and tells the story of a teen on trial for murder. Myers' book, "Game" focuses on one of his favorite sports -- basketball -- but also tells a poignant coming-of-age story. Anyone looking for compelling storytelling mixed with lessons about U.S. history and racism should try any of Walter Dean Myers' young adult novels.

About the Author

Kimberly Hurd is a high-school teacher and has been writing professionally since 1999. She mainly focuses her writing on issues related to parenting, family life, cooking and education. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from the University of Oregon and a Master of Teaching from the University of Portland.

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