5 HOT BOOKS: David Hogg on Guns, Flint's Water Crisis Explained, and More


1. #NeverAgain: A New Generation Draws the Line by David Hogg and Lauren Hogg (Random House)

The morning after February’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., David Hogg, a 17-year-old senior at the school, famously declared to CNN: “We’re children. You guys are the adults. You need to take some action and play a role. Work together. Get over your politics and get something done.” Now Hogg and his younger sister, Lauren, two of the compelling leaders of their March for Our Lives movement, charmingly chronicle the roots of their activism in a dialogue of alternating essays. This fierce little paperback includes “The Parkland Manifesto” and an annotated list of many of those killed in gun violence since Columbine High School in 1999, with telling details, and prefaced with the promise: “It will be the work of our lives to end this list for good.”

2. What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City by Mona Hanna-Attisha (One World)

“This is the story of the most important and emblematic environmental and public health disaster of this young century,” writes pediatrician Hanna-Attisha, known as “Dr. Mona” in Flint, Mich., who heroically exposed the city’s poisonous water supply. An Iraqi immigrant who fled with her family to the U.S. after her father had become an outspoken critic of Saddam Hussein, Hanna-Attisha followed in his footsteps, practicing medicine on the front lines in one of the poorest parts of America, then building a convincing case about the high levels of lead contamination in Flint’s water and rallying an action campaign. In her determined and spirited memoir, she convincingly argues that the Flint crisis was “entirely preventable” and reflected disregard for the poor by local and state officials.

3. The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai (Viking)

In this extraordinary double-helix of a novel, Makkai tells a compelling story that stretches over three decades, beginning in 1985, as the AIDS crisis is hitting Chicago. Drawing on her gifts as an acclaimed short story writer – with multiple stories selected for editions of The Best American Short Stories – Makkai captures the universal echo of grief that passes through generations of survivors, while also traversing the particular devastation of AIDS within a circle of friends, the 1920’s art world, and an array of other locales and relationships.  For every book a reader purchases and posts a photo of on Instagram, Twitter, or her Facebook page with the hashtag #TheGreatBelieversDonate, Makkai will donate one dollar (up to $5,000) to Vital Bridges,  a small AIDS organization in Chicago that deals with the non-fiction fallout of her narrative.  

4. Yes We (Still) Can: Politics in the Age of Obama, Twitter, and Trump by Dan Pfeiffer (Twelve)

Pfeiffer, one of the first staffers hired by then-little-known Barack Obama for his 2008 presidential run, and one of his longest-serving advisers, is now co-host of the wildly popular Pod Save America with an assortment of Obama alums. Neither tell-all nor history, Pfeiffer’s memoir is a self-deprecating meditation, which sets the tone with an early section titled “Losing Sucks and Other Stories from the Campaign Trail.” At the heart of the book is Pfeiffer's candid and shrewd analysis of the post-Obama world, including the Tea Party’s Republican radicalization; the mainstreaming of white identity politics; and a dramatically changing media ecosystem in which vanishing fact-checkers and rules have been replaced by Twitter, leaks, and political journalism that reads like glorified sports coverage.

5. Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li (Henry Holt)

In Li’s debut novel, family drama revolves around closing the Beijing Duck House, a traditional Chinese restaurant in suburban Washington, D.C. to open Beijing Glory, a chic Asian fusion dining establishment in Georgetown. Ingeniously, Li taps into the universal tensions of generational conflict and with a light, humane touch, infusing her story with the particulars of this extended Chinese-American family.  Li resists parody and plumbs the emotional lives of the intersecting cast of characters that moves through the restaurant, from a romantically involved manager and waiter to the mysterious Uncle Pang, who holds considerable sway in this deeply affecting, intricately detailed work of fiction.