By Ben Westhoff
Read by Dan Bittner
Read by Ben Westhoff
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This intimate exploration of race and inequality in America tells the story of a journalist’s long-time relationship with his mentee, Jorell Cleveland, through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and investigates Jorell's tragic fatal shooting.In 2005, soon after Ben Westhoff moved to St. Louis, he joined the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and was paired with Jorell Cleveland. Ben was twenty-eight, a white college grad from an affluent family. Jorell was eight, one of nine children from a poor, African American family living in nearby Ferguson. But the two instantly connected. Ben and Jorell formed a bond stronger than nearly any other in their lives. When Ben met the woman who'd become his wife, she observed that Ben and Jorell were "a package deal." They were brothers.
In the summer of 2016, Jorell was shot at point blank range in broad daylight in the middle of the street, yet no one was charged in his death. Ben grappled with mourning Jorell, but also with a feeling of responsibility. As Jorell’s mentor, what could he have done differently? As a journalist, he had reported on gang life, interviewed crime kingpins, and even infiltrated drug labs in China. But now, he was investigating the life and death of someone he knew personally and examining what he did and did not know about his friend. Learning the truth about Jorell and the man who killed him required Ben to uncover a heartbreaking cycle of poverty, poor education, drug trafficking, and violence. Little Brother brilliantly combines a deeply personal history with a true-crime narrative that exposes the realities of life in communities like Ferguson all around the country.
"The creative and original telling of a young man’s life and death on the streets and the Big Brother who sought his killer.”Sam Quinones, author of The Least of Us: True Tales of America and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth and Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic
"I finished Little Brother in one day. It humanizes people and communities who have long been dehumanized. So much of it hits close to home. Ben Westhoff has taken a lot of crazy risks in his work before, but it’s the emotional exploration here that makes it his bravest work yet.”Aisha Sultan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist
"With Little Brother, Ben Westhoff takes a relentless journalistic approach to discovering truths about a personal tragedy. Masterful."Toriano Porter, Kansas City Star editorial board member and author of The Pride of Park Avenue
“The death of a young Black man begets a thought-provoking…account from journalist [Ben] Westhoff…showcasing his investigative chops."Publishers Weekly
- On Sale
- May 24, 2022
- Hachette Audio