An eye-opening and intimate study of what families eat and why.

Food, families, and motherhood in America.

Making an insightful book debut, sociologist and ethnographer Fielding-Singh brings her perspective as a biracial, South Asian American woman, and concerned mother, to this well-researched look at food choices among racially, ethnically, and economically diverse families. Based on interviews with 75 families and extended observations of four families’ daily lives, the book questions the assumption that food inequality can be “completely explained by the fact that healthy food was more expensive and farther away from lower-income folks than wealthier ones.” Parents across society, she discovered, “undertake sacrificial, complicated, and frustrating work to feed kids.” None lived in a “food desert” without access to affordable, healthy food, but there was a definite difference in the kinds of markets they frequented—Whole Foods vs. Costco—and the amounts they were able to spend, from less than $200 a month to over $1,000. Feeding fell largely to mothers, who all expressed concern about their children’s nutrition. Nevertheless, mothers who had to deny many of their children’s desires because of financial straits were likely to give in when it came to junk food, spending money on the chips and sugared cereal their children clamored for instead of fruits and vegetables. Lack of time, children’s pickiness, and food industry advertising all shaped what mothers put on the table. Fielding-Singh incisively explores “racist narratives pervading dietary discourses” that associate certain foods with Black and Latinx families, fetishizing kale rather than collard greens, for example, as well as how privileged mothers were “constantly ratcheting up the standards by which they evaluated their kids’ diets and themselves as moms.” To overcome food inequality, Fielding-Singh suggests—in addition to a living wage and affordable housing—incentive programs, which would stretch federal-assistance dollars for the purchase of more nutritious foods; improving the national school lunch program; and banning the food industry from marketing to children.

An eye-opening and intimate study of what families eat and why.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-42726-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown Spark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021


Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

The tech mogul recounts the health care–related dimensions of his foundation in what amounts to a long policy paper.

“Outbreaks are inevitable, but pandemics are optional.” Thus states the epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, a Gates adviser, who hits on a critically important point: Disease is a fact of nature, but a pandemic is a political creation of a kind. Therefore, there are political as well as medical solutions that can enlist governments as well as scientists to contain outbreaks and make sure they don’t explode into global disasters. One critical element, Gates writes, is to alleviate the gap between high- and low-income countries, the latter of which suffer disproportionately from outbreaks. Another is to convince governments to ramp up production of vaccines that are “universal”—i.e., applicable to an existing range of disease agents, especially respiratory pathogens such as coronaviruses and flus—to prepare the world’s populations for the inevitable. “Doing the right thing early pays huge dividends later,” writes Gates. Even though doing the right thing is often expensive, the author urges that it’s a wise investment and one that has never been attempted—e.g., developing a “global corps” of scientists and aid workers “whose job is to wake up every day thinking about diseases that could kill huge numbers of people.” To those who object that such things are easier said than done, Gates counters that the development of the current range of Covid vaccines was improbably fast, taking a third of the time that would normally have been required. At the same time, the author examines some of the social changes that came about through the pandemic, including the “new normal” of distance working and learning—both of which, he urges, stand to be improved but need not be abandoned.

Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-53448-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022


A harrowing, haunting reflection on the routine slaughter wrought by guns.

The acclaimed novelist lays out how America became a nation terrorized by personal weaponry.  

In this brief but remarkably moving work, Auster blends personal and historical commentary, anecdotal and statistical evidence, sober analysis, and passionate appeals for reform, sketching the origins and present reality of American gun violence. Early in the book, he reveals a disturbing secret: When his father was 6 years old, his grandmother deliberately shot and killed his grandfather in an act attributed to temporary insanity. Auster suggests that this tragedy and its ramifying trauma might be viewed as broadly and uncannily representative of modern American life, where such violence has been normalized by its frequency. The author remains both sensible and compelling in his commentary as he notes the divisiveness of efforts at gun control, and he skillfully summarizes the reasoning and emotional commitments of both pro- and anti-gun activists. His outline of the nation’s historical relationship with guns is astute and memorable, and he persuasively assesses the sociopolitical roots of the “right to bear arms,” the ideological impacts of long-term conflicts with Native Americans and the enslavement of African Americans, and the strange oscillations of outrage and complacency that define contemporary responses to mass shootings. Though Auster’s arguments will be familiar to anyone who has followed gun control debates closely, the author’s overview is exceptional in its clarity and arresting in its sense of urgency. The book includes a series of photographs by Ostrander, each of them absent of human figures or any overt suggestion of traumatic events—caption: “Safeway supermarket parking lot. Tucson, Arizona. January 8, 2011. 6 people killed; 15 injured (13 by gunfire).” The photos document the sites of mass shootings and provoke, like the text, disquieting confrontations with the nation’s transformation of all private and public settings into potential sites of violence.

A harrowing, haunting reflection on the routine slaughter wrought by guns.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 9780802160454

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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