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Source Reviewed:

The Code: The 5 Secrets of Teen Success (Mawi Asgedom, 2003)




General Interest


Mawi Asgedom, author of Of Beetles and Angels: A Boy’s Remarkable Journey From a Refugee Camp to Harvard, talks about the steps that helped him survive through learning a new language, bullying, poverty, and the death of his brother and father, in his book The Code. As a teenager, Mawi discovered The Code that facilitated his transformation from a young Ethiopian refugee into a successful Harvard graduate and sought-after motivational speaker. The Code: The 5 Secrets of Teen Success, written for teens, explains Mawi’s five “secrets” to achieve success:
1. Win the Inner Battle
2. Win Every Day
3. Give First, Receive Second
4. Never Lose Hope
5. Take Smart Risks
With each secret, Mawi includes lessons that he has learned throughout his life. The Code is designed to help teens achieve the “real success” of “being comfortable with who you are, choosing your own goals, and making yourself the person you’ve always known you could be” (5).


This resource is easily accessible to teenaged students. The reading level is suitable for younger teenage students and with vocabulary help would work well with new language learners. The chapters are relatively short, the print is large, the writing style is casual, and the vocabulary colloquial. Mawi’s real life stories make reading each lesson interesting, practical and relevant. Furthermore, the book is interactive and prompts the reader to participate throughout it by responding to scenarios and developing a personal code. In the “Your Turn” sections of the book, Mawi asks readers to looks at their own lives and constantly self-assess their performances. There are also easy to follow exemplars that help the reader navigate throughout the process of creating a code. This book would work well as a journal companion, as it gives many great discussion topics that press readers to test their morals and values. Mawi ends the book with some of his favorite quotations.


Because of organization, at times, the book can be a bit difficult to follow. The book is organized into chapters divided by the five secrets. Each secret has lessons of varying lengths, and there in some lessons there are spaces where the reader can write in the book. The Code works better as a companion to a journal, rather than as a novel to read independently in school.


Read the reviews of Mawi Asgedom’s book, Of Beetles and Angels: A Boy’s Remarkable Journey From a Refugee Camp to Harvard, his resource Win the Inner Battle: The Ultimate Teen Journal, and his website www.mawispeaks.com for more information on bringing these resources into the classroom.

Your Recommendations:


Submitted by: Colleen Grandy

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