Study Guide

Autobiography of My Dead Brother Genre

By Walter Dean Myers

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Young Adult; Coming of Age; Tragedy; Family Drama

Like many other coming-of-age stories, Autobiography of My Dead Brother is a young adult novel. (After all, young adults are the people generally going through the whole coming-of-age experience.) Jesse and Rise have been besties since they were toddlers, but now that they're teens, they seem to be growing apart. First Jesse noticed that they stopped collecting comics and having sleepovers; then he started noticing bigger differences—namely, that Jesse wants to be an artist and Rise wants to be a drug lord. Yikes.

Rise is seventeen years old, full of potential, and loved by Jesse, his family, and other people in his life. That's why it's so hard to stomach his brutal end at the hands of Little Man, who's a total punk. Rise was trying to get ahead in life; he just chose the wrong path, and for that, he pays the ultimate price. This makes the book a total tragedy.

While the novel isn't a strict family drama—the central conflict takes place outside of Jesse's bloodline—it does have many elements of the genre. Jesse's parents are super worried about him, and this causes a lot of tension at home, including physical violence. Plus, since Jesse thinks of Rise as a brother, if we loosen the definition of family a bit to include chosen family, the entire drama in the story is based on Jesse's family.

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