I’ve pondered how to begin this review for some time now. There’s no safe way to talk about guns without someone jumping down your throat.
In an age where social media runs supreme, everyone is judged by the content of a meme. But the fact of the matter is, guns and violence are more prevalent than they’ve ever been in our everyday lives. They deserve more attention than a quick Facebook debate. People should be holding conferences with their local senators, town hall meetings with local gun groups, doing research and writing books…oh, wait….
Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives tells the story of 10 people whose lives were ended abruptly on the 23rd of November, 2013. To be more specific, the book tells the story of 10 children, between the ages of 9 and 19, shot and killed by guns the day before Thanksgiving 2013. The day held no special meaning to the author and surely it means nothing to the majority of his audience; it was just another day. However, to the ten families whose lives were forever changed it was a day they will never forget.
British author Gary Younge, columnist for The Guardian and Nation magazine, set out to do what many journalists and news organizations have avoided for some time: humanize victims of gun violence. Over an 18 month span, Younge put each victim’s story on exhibit, visiting neighborhoods in places like Chicago, Indianapolis and Detroit; talking to friends, families and teachers of those who were taken too soon to assemble an authentic look at “another day” in their young lives.
Intended or not, Younge’s investigation sheds light on the great economic disparity between races and regions in America; the majority killed were of the lower middle class, some impoverished and most non-white. But that isn’t the point. Younge’s research reveals the immense vulnerability of youth in America and the prevalence of their exposure to gun violence. For example, did you know between 20 and 30% of school children in Chicago have already witnessed a shooting in their young lives? How is this being allowed to happen?
“This is not a book about gun control” Younge writes. “This is a book about America and its kids viewed through a particular lens in a particular moment.”
The overexposure of children to violence and guns Younge writes about in his book, for lack of a better word, is sickening. What’s even more so is that people will read this book and say “it wasn’t the guns fault he was in a gang” or “a murderer killed Gustin, not a gun”. Heck, even the parents of the victims took on the blame before even considering putting it on a gun. Gun enthusiast or not, it is disheartening to know that so many children are being taken from us and nobody seems to care enough to do anything about it.
Regardless of reasoning, violence in America has become so normalized that it’s citizens are genuinely unaffected by daily obituaries. Young or old, the empathy well has run dry. I’m guilty of it; we all are. Struggling (mightily) to recall what I was doing on that day four years ago while reading is what made it all the more eye-opening. Younge didn’t write this book to make people who support guns feel like bad people. He wrote this book to start a discussion about change. Younge’s objectivity throughout and the ease in which he strokes his pen makes Another Day in the Death of America the most horrific yet important reads of recent memory.
This is one of the most brutal books I’ve ever read. It should be required reading for both students and their parents.