Moore admits that after the book came out, readers pressed him for an answer on what factors caused the divergence in his and Wes’s fates. He’s found that each reader comes up with their own answer, pointing to anything from the role of mentors, the influence of cultural capital, or the importance of waiting to have kids. Moore mentions that he once received a letter from a 15-year-old from Baltimore who’d already served time in juvenile detention. The young man confesses that The Other Wes Moore is the only book he’d read in its entirety, and that it inspired him to think about his fate in a new light. Moore has found that the book speaks to an extraordinarily diverse range of people who each have their own unique understanding of its meaning. His greatest hope is that the book will inspire young people to see “success as a possibility” and to believe that struggle can result in a happy ending. Moore concludes with a poem by Sir William Ernest Henley that ends: “I am the master of my fate / I am the captain of my soul.”
In the afterword, Moore highlights another important reason for his reluctance to emphasize any one message in the story: the fact that we are all unique individuals, and that each person will thus have their own individual interpretation of the book and its implications. Even if Moore were able to successfully isolate a single factor that “made the difference” in determining his and Wes’s fates, this factor might be completely irrelevant to the lives of others. Ultimately, readers should learn what they can from the example of the two Wes Moores while bearing in mind that each person is different and that the lessons from one story will never apply directly in a different context.