The title of Autobiography of My Dead Brother refers to Rise, a young African American whose life is chronicled by his oldest friend, Jesse, through pictures and comic strips. Jesse and Rise are not literally brothers, but they grew up together. Rise’s grandmother babysat Jesse while Jesse’s parents were working. Neither child had siblings, and they became best friends. After watching an old movie about Native Americans on television, they cut themselves to exchange blood and became “blood brothers.”
The opening episode of the novel is a funeral for a fourteen-year-old African American, a friend of both Jesse and Rise. They attend the funeral, while their friend C. J. plays the organ. The deceased had been killed in a drive-by shooting, and the police do not have any suspects.
The next night Jesse, Rise, and C. J. attend a meeting of the Counts, a social club for teenage boys that meets at a local armory. They are not a gang, although one of the oldest members, Mason, has been trying to convince them to become one. Mason has recently been arrested and has asked the Counts to talk to the main witness against him in the hope of intimidating him into not testifying. Several of the members, including Rise, are in favor of the action and several, including C. J., are against it, so they table their decision. Jesse does not express an opinion.
Another item of business for the Counts is the admission of a new member,...
(The entire section is 551 words.)