Study Guide

Autobiography of My Dead Brother Chapter 1

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Chapter 1

  • Friends, we are gathered here today to honor the life and memory of fourteen-year-old Bobby Green…whoever that is. R.I.P.
  • Pastor Loving is leading Bobby Green's funeral service; he mentions that the community has buried a lot of young men due to violence.
  • The service ends. Our as-yet-unnamed narrator has a brief conversation with his mom. He doesn't want to file past Bobby's casket. Fair enough.
  • The narrator leaves the church and starts talking to a woman who calls him Jesse. Check it out—our narrator has a name. Hi, Jesse.
  • Miss Lassiter asks Jesse if he knows who shot Bobby Green, but Jesse doesn't.
  • Jesse's friend C.J. asks him if he wants to go to the park. C.J.'s looking a little weepy—seems like these guys were friends with Bobby.
  • Jesse agrees to go to the park with Bobby; so does another guy who's named Rise.
  • Rise asks C.J. why he didn't play any jazz on the organ at Bobby's funeral, and C.J. explains that he wasn't sure if it was appropriate.
  • Rise says Bobby went out like a man. Jesse's not so sure that getting shot in a drive-by constitutes going out like a man, though.
  • C.J. thinks about how he and Bobby were just talking about going to college the other day, but Rise is all like, when it's your time, it's your time. Rise seems to have a comfort with death that the other two boys don't possess.
  • Jesse gives us a little background on C.J.: He's fifteen and really into church and music.
  • Jesse thinks it would have been nice if C.J. had played jazz at Bobby's funeral just to distinguish it from all the other funerals in some way. Again we get the sense that there's a lot of death in this community.
  • Rise tells Jesse and C.J. that there's a meeting of the Counts tomorrow. About what? Rise doesn't know.
  • Once again, Rise is reflecting on the inevitability of death; he says you have to make every day count.
  • An ambulance passes, its sirens blaring. Jesse's dad always says that sirens are the main sound in the neighborhood. Total bummer.
  • Rise leaves to go home.
  • Once Rise is out of earshot, C.J.'s like, you know what? I don't want to get shot in a drive-by. Jesse agrees—he wants to die an old man.
  • Jesse remembers the day Bobby died. It was scary. Jesse doesn't really feel like he's going to get shot in a drive-by, but he feels anxious all the time and he's not sure what to do about it.
  • The next morning, back at home, Jesse asks his dad what he's eating. Jesse's dad seems really cranky about it.
  • Oh, he's cranky because he's on a diet. Doctor's orders.
  • Jesse's dad asks him if he wants to go bowling later. Jesse's like, since when do you bowl?
  • His mom explains that his dad is trying to spend quality father-son time. Aw.
  • Anyway, Jesse can't go because he has that meeting with the Counts.
  • Jesse's mom asks how Rise is doing; Jesse says he's okay.
  • Back to the topic of father-son time, Jesse's mom thinks they should go fishing. Jesse's dad thinks that sounds okay if fried fish is involved.
  • Jesse's parents are off to work. As they head out, he gets a kiss from his mom and a handshake from his father.
  • Jesse knows his dad is trying extra hard because of Bobby's death. He also knows his parents have talked about moving because of all the neighborhood violence—they worry about Jesse and Rise.
  • Jesse thinks back to when he first met Rise: He was just one year old, and Rise was three. Rise's mom was Jesse's babysitter.
  • Ever since then, he and Rise have been super close, much more like brothers than best friends.
  • In fact, they're blood brothers. When they were seven and nine, Jesse and Rise made a blood pact when Jesse scraped his elbow and Rise (purposefully) cut his finger. Then Rise's grandma took them both to the hospital. Wee.
  • Jesse always liked hanging out at Rise's when he was a kid. His mom and grandma were always around; no father, though.
  • Jesse's always gotten along well with his parents. Rise used to stay over when they were younger, but he's grown out of that. They've grown out of other stuff, too, like comics.
  • As they've gotten older, Rise's grandma's gotten weirder—Alzheimer's disease can do that to a person.
  • Jesse mentions he's an artist. He's been drawing ever since he and Rise started collecting comics when they were little kids, and he's always wanted to draw his own comic.
  • Okay, back to Rise: He's always been Jesse's hero and defender, and he's also very wise. For a while he was on the college track, but more recently, Rise has been getting into trouble at school.
  • Jesse doesn't really know why Rise has been getting into trouble. Sounds like they've been drifting apart recently.
  • Also, Jesse has started hanging out with C.J. They met at church, and their moms know each other.
  • C.J. is nerdy but honest, a quality that Jesse really appreciates. Jesse recently helped him join the Counts. Still not sure what the Counts are, but it seems like some sort of club.

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