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Dear Marcus: A Letter to the Man Who Shot Meby Jerry Mcgill
Synopses & Reviews
When Jerry McGill was growing up in the housing projects on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the 1980s, his future seemed bright: Though times were tough for a family led by a single mother, McGill was a charming, precocious teenager, already excelling as an athlete and a dancer. But everything changed one night when he was thirteen. Walking home from a New Year’s party with a friend, McGill was shot in the back by an unknown assailant, who was never caught. Soon after, he learned that he would be wheelchair-bound for life.
Written as a letter to the man who shot him, whom he decides to call Marcus, Dear Marcus is a reflection on McGill’s childhood, the event that changed his life in an instant, the challenges of living with a disability, and the importance of optimism, forgiveness, and making the most of our gifts. In this direct and intimate attempt to explain to his attacker the repercussions of his deeds—how one man’s random decision radically altered the course of another’s life—McGill takes us to the streets of New York City in the 1980s, to the hospital where he spent six months recovering, and on his journey to make the most of his new life. He recounts the joys he has experienced traveling the globe and mentoring disabled children, the love and support he has received over the years, and the strengths he has been able to find within himself that he may never have discovered had his life turned out differently.
By turns brutally honest and funny, both full of rage and full of heart, Dear Marcus is an inspiring book about the moments in life that shape us—the ones that catch us by surprise, that blindside us, but that present us with opportunities for growth, reflection, compassion, and forgiveness. At some point—to greater or lesser degrees—we will all be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The challenge, though, as Dear Marcus shows us, is not to wallow in despair or blame other people, but to rise up and find strengths within ourselves that we didn’t know we had.
"A moment of senseless violence transforms a young man in this inspiring memoir of disability. In 1982, McGill was 13 years old and living in a Manhattan housing project when he was randomly shot in the back by an assailant who was never found (he dubs the unknown gunman 'Marcus'). The wound left him a near quadriplegic, and the once athletic boy faced an agonizing struggle to recover some bodily function, and adjust to losing most. McGill takes an unsparing though humorously insightful look at the frustrations and humiliations imposed by his handicap and at the permanent rifts his family suffered from the strain. In time, McGill learns to appreciate his care-givers, finishes college, embarks on a rewarding career, and experiences a tender sexual encounter with a former camp counselor. 'Happiness is a thing I can control if I put my mind to it,' he realizes. McGill moves from bitter contempt for his attacker to a deeper analysis of the ghetto culture of violence, fatherlessness, and misguided machismo that victimized him — and eventually to understanding and forgiveness. Agent, Lydia Willis. Photos." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
As a boy, Jerome moves from Brooklyn to the Lower East Side in Manhattan, and everything seems grand.
There is more light and more excitement in this new place. And even though times are tough for a family led by a single mother, Jerome sees a promising future for himself. By the young age of twelve, he's already excelling as an athlete and performer.
But everything swiftly changes one night for Jerome. Walking home from a party with a friend, he's shot in the back. Shortly after, he learns he'll be paralyzed for life.
Jerome never meets his attacker, and the authorities never catch the person. News of a black adolescent getting shot in Manhattan doesn't even rate a paragraph in the local paper. With only his close circle of friends, family and caregivers, Jerome is left looking for answers.
Rather than settle into a world of depression and anger, however, Jerome goes on to live a fulfilling and rewarding life. In this touching memoir, he confronts not only the demons he knows, but the one that remains mysterious, the one he reaches out to in Dear Marcus.
About the Author
Jerry McGill is a writer and artist. He received a BA in English literature from Fordham University in the Bronx and a master's degree in education from Pacific University in Oregon. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
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