Book review: Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge

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Title: Another Day in the Death of America
Author: Gary Younge
ISBN: 9781783351015
Pages: 320
Release Date: September 29, 2016
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Genre: Sociology, True Crime

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013. It was just another day in America; an unremarkable Saturday on which ten children and teens were killed by gunfire. The youngest was nine; the oldest was nineteen. White, Black and Latino, they fell in suburbs, hamlets and ghettos. None made the national news. There was no outrage about their passing. It was just another day in the death of America, where on a daily average – seven children and teens are killed by guns.

Younge picked this day at random, searched for their families and tells their stories. The nine-year-old opened the door and was shot in the head by his mother’s ex-boyfriend. The eleven-year-old was killed by his friend at a sleep over in rural Michigan. The eighteen-year-old gang member, on Chicago’s South Side, was shot in a stairwell just days after being released from prison. Through ten moving chapters – one for each child – Younge explores the way these children lived and lost their short lives. He finds out who they were, who they wanted to be, the environments they inhabited, and what this might tell us about society at large.

What emerges is a searing portrait of childhood and youth in contemporary America.

— From Faber & Faber

This review is taking me embarrassingly long to finish. Another Day in the Death of America is such an important and emotional book, I keep sitting here, typing sentences and immediately deleting them. I feel like I cannot do it justice. This book… is so very good.

Gary Younge has a real talent for writing persuasive essays, but he manages to keep a steady and convincing flow throughout a full length book too. Not even for an instant does it feel dragged out or padded with irrelevant information. Every chapter is lean and brings more to the discussion table. The thesis is never lost among tangential arguments, or muddled by overextended examples. Every point and every evidence hit right where it supposed to for a work that is hard dismiss once you read it. It lodges in your psyche for days afterwards.

I recommend everyone to read this book not only because it’s so well-crafted, but because the subject matter is so important to discuss. Gun violence is a very real problem in United States of America. The exposure that children get to firearms and low safety regulations in most states draw a truly sad portrait of an otherwise very progressive country.

How perfectly concise is the following argument by President Obama: “If we can develop technology that you can’t unlock your phone unless you’ve got the right fingerprint, why can’t we do it for guns? […] If a child can’t open a bottle of aspirin, we should make sure that they can’t pull the trigger on a gun.” Yet to this day little has changed in legislation to reinforce stricter gun control thanks to NRA lobbying and pro-gun campaigning from the majority of states where guns are just part of culture.

I am so grateful that Gary Younge gave albeit brief, but memorable voice to ten children whose deaths were otherwise written off as a statistic. They comprise only a small fraction of young lives lost every year because firearms are readily available to mentally unstable individuals, gang members caught up in violence,  or persons unfamiliar with safety, but overcome by curiosity. Something has to change.

Go and get this book right away. Read it and pass it along.

Purchase this book: Book Depository
Author’s website: Gary Younge

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