The Autobiography of My Dead Brother by Walter Dean Myers traces the lives of Jesse, the narrator and his "blood" brother Rise as they try to find a way to survive in a tough neighborhood where their youth group/ social club faces the possibility of becoming a gang.
Jesse and Rise have been best friends since they were very young after Rise's mother and her young family moved to the neighborhood when Rise was just three. She looked for one-year-old Jesse whilst his parents were at work and the boys have been friends ever since to the point that
"when we saw an old movie on television about these two guys cutting themselves and mixing their blood to become blood brothers, we thought it was a good idea."
Over time, Jesse begins to draw and carries a sketch book around with him having been motivated by his comic book collection and his discovery of his talent for drawing. However, Rise begins to change and become more interested in more dubious pursuits. Jesse and C.J. strengthen their friendship.
Bobby Green has been killed in a drive- by shooting and this has prompted talk about gangs and Rise is keen to make their presence felt in the neighborhood even encouraging the boys to retaliate against an apparent wrong arrest. He does agree not to do anything but is already idealizing the gangster lifestyle and suggests that Jesse should draw pictures of Rise so that the pictures can tell his story and beginning with one showing Rise's strength because he seems to think that he is invincible.
Jesse questions Rise about his involvement in drugs after Rise had always said that "that stuff is sucking the life out of the hood" and yet now he is going to pay for an apartment from drug money. Rise recalls having "seen me standing in the cold by the side of the track waiting for my train to come... and my train never did come" which suggests that he saw selling drugs as his path to a glamorous lifestyle.
Rise's disillusionment with this lifestyle will come too late to save him and the story will end in his death as he dies, "scared" in Jesse's arms.