Highly difficult to read in one sitting, but we must not look away.

IF I DON'T MAKE IT, I LOVE YOU

SURVIVORS IN THE AFTERMATH OF SCHOOL SHOOTINGS

Agonizing accounts of school shootings, amply showing that “you don’t have to be a combat veteran to be exposed to violent trauma in America.”

Co-editors Archer (Fat Girl, Skinny, 2016) and Kleinman (The Dark Cave Between My Ribs, 2014) gather all manner of writing—firsthand accounts, remembrances, interviews, even cartoons—about school shootings in the U.S. dating back to 1966. The result is an important and horrifyingly thick anthology of mass murders that have occurred at elementary, middle, and high schools as well as colleges. For each of the 21 tragedies, one of the editors contributes an introduction, mentions the perpetrators, lists the names of the murdered individuals, and then shares one or more anguished contributions by those directly affected. Eternal optimists may view the anthology as a testament to human resilience; more pessimistic readers will see it as a necessarily searing indictment of the never-ending lethal gun culture in the U.S. Whatever the reader’s disposition, the accumulated impact makes for powerful, painful reading. Some of the massacres will be well remembered by most readers—e.g., Parkland, Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, and Columbine—while others may have been forgotten. The co-editors present the events in reverse chronological order, which means the final chapter is set at the University of Texas on Aug. 1, 1966, when Charles Whitman fired bullets from a campus tower, murdering 15 students, staff, tower visitors, and first responders. The final section, “Coordinating Trauma,” offers glimpses of hope, as “activists and survivor coordinators recount their paths to supporting survivors in the aftermath of school shootings.” Taken together, the pieces in this often heartbreaking collection make clear that policymakers reacting to each slaughter with “thoughts and prayers” will never suffice.

Highly difficult to read in one sitting, but we must not look away.

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5107-4649-7

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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