Fact? or Fiction?
The story “I Just Wanna Be Average”, written by Mike Rose offers up a personal account of how a testing mistake early in his high school days could have changed the course of his life for the worse and how these events and those that followed solidified his perception of the educational system as an adult. The author tries to establish credibility by writing in a first-person narrative of his life as a teenager growing up in early 1960s Los Angeles and also with his complex sentence structure and big words as an adult in reflection of his life during that time period. This authority is also emphasized by the intro to the piece about his misfortunes as a teenager and his many accomplishments as an adult as an award-winning author and college professor. By putting such a glowing review about the author in front of the piece, it sets up the belief that what you’re about to read is righteous and true.
Whether in whole or in part, I believe this piece is a work of fiction. I have done research of my own into this story that is supposed to be a recount of the author’s own history and found several untruths. First, there is no high school in Los Angeles called Our Lady of Mercy. The only school by that name in California is located in Merced, California. It is in northern California, a few hundred miles from Los Angeles. If the author wanted to change the name of the school to protect the privacy of the students and staff, then it should have been noted somewhere in the piece because now that I know that the school name was fictitious I am left wondering what other facts about his life are suspect.
Which brings me to my second finding. In the author’s own words for a piece he did for The American Scholar, he says: “Most of the guys who attended our school—Catholic schools were then segregated by gender—came from blue-collar families. Some of us, myself included, were poor, but the parents of others had...