“24 hours. 8 states. 10 young lives lost to gun violence.”
From the back cover:
Saturday, November 23rd, 2013. It was just another day in America. And as befits an unremarkable day, ten children and teens were killed by gunfire. Far from being considered newsworthy, these everyday fatalities are a simple banal fact.
The youngest was nine; the oldest nineteen. None made the news. There was no outrage at their passing. It was simply a day like any other day. Gary Younge picked it at random, searched for the families of these children and here, tells their stories and explores the way they lived and lost their short lives.
“Nobody knows where the next shot is coming from or whom it’ll be aimed at. But everybody knows it’s coming.”
Sadly, that’s a very true statement for many people living in parts of America where gun violence is rife. In this bold and brave book, Younge looks at the lives of 10 young people whose lives were stolen, whether it be accidental, mistaken identity or intentional – the fact that these young people lost their lives is heartbreaking and for Younge to shine some light of these lives, telling the world they matter makes this a very special book.
Please bare that above paragraph in mind when you read the rest of this review, this book did fall short for me but I take nothing away from the important message this book delivers. Another Day in the Death of America opens with a very powerful Introduction and Author’s Note in which Younge explains that he chose 23rd November at random but had he chosen any other day of the week, this book could still have been written, that alone is a scary reality.
For me this book was too weighed down by statistics, I appreciated the importance of Younge including them but I felt it took away from the emotional elements of the book. I was hoping for a more in depth look at the young lives lost, testimonies from those closest to them, I suppose I was looking for more outrage at what had happened and that it wasn’t even deemed newsworthy. I don’t mean in the sense that I was looking for an entertainment factor, I mean that I find personal accounts more hard hitting than facts and figures, thus would have made this book even more powerful. Facts and figures lack that human element and I wanted to focus on this human connection as that is what, I believe, society is lacking today – and it’s only once that human connection is restored lies the possibility for change.
One of things that really stuck with me when reading this book was that the family of Pedro Cortez refused to talk to Younge at all but he still included Pedro in this book because despite not a lot being know about his death, it still matters. Younge didn’t remove it or replace it with someone else because Pedro, and others like Pedro, matter.
When reading this book, it was scary how much of the blame the parents received, and I don’t mean the parents of the perpetrator, I mean the parents of the victim:
“I have two adult kiddos and there’s no way they would’ve been out walking streets after dark, AND I always knew where they were but all parents could do better.”
When did we lose the belief that a parent does everything they can to protect their child? No parent should outlive their child, when did it become okay to place blame on a person suffering the worst grief one could possibly experience!?
I commend Younge for taking the time to research and write this book, it matters because the lives of these young people matter, it’s just a shame that the statistical element overshadowed the emotional/human element at times.