Selected for Common Reading at Defiance College
Jerry McGill was thirteen years old, walking home through the projects of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, when he was shot in the back by a stranger. Jerry survived, wheelchair-bound for life; his assailant was never caught. Thirty years later, Jerry wants to say something to the man who shot him.
With profound grace, brutal honesty, and devastating humor, Jerry McGill takes us on a dramatic and inspiring journey—from the streets of 1980s New York, where poverty and violence were part of growing up, to the challenges of living with a disability and learning to help and inspire others, to the long, difficult road to acceptance, forgiveness, and, ultimately, triumph.
“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. . . . The complexity of issues is presented with stunning and distilled simplicity. . . . 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.” –School Library Journal
“As I started reading Dear Marcus, I found I couldn’t put it down. This is a compelling marriage of remembrance and forgiveness, absolution and compassion, cynicism and understanding.”
–Wes Moore, author of The Other Wes Moore
“It's hard to remember how out of control our cities were back in the 1970s and 80s. If you want a firsthand account, there's no better place to turn than Dear Marcus. But Dear Marcus is more than that: It's an incredibly intense story of triumph over tragedy that can inspire people dealing with any sort of challenge in their lives. It's rare to find a book that speaks to you on the most personal level while illustrating much bigger themes and is so compelling to read to boot.”
–Dalton Conley, dean of social sciences at New York University and author of Honky
"Written with passion, honesty, humor, and a stubborn, rebellious optimism, Dear Marcus is like nothing I've ever read. When a bullet in the back told Jerry McGill not to go on, Jerry went on–smiling."
–Shalom Auslander, author of Hope: A Tragedy
“There is sorrow and fury, but this is not the Book of Job. McGill clearly possessed the charm, attractiveness, and spirit to avail himself of the help and care that came his way--both within therapeutic settings and outside--and he managed to have girlfriends, graduate from Fordham University, write screenplays, make films, and subsequently become a teacher and advocate for the rights of the disabled. Nonetheless, although he can list the difficulties he has had with bathrooms, housing, and employment he also lists, to astonish his invisible assailant, the ‘marvelous globetrotting pleasures’ he has experienced: from sipping coffee in a Costa Rican rain forest to performing at a vintage theater in England with a troupe of disabled performers…Inspiring”
–Lorrie Moore (in her review of the self-published edition in The New York Review of Books)
Contact us about speaking engagements with Jerry McGill
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.