An insightful, educative treatise from a seasoned professional.

THE STOLEN YEAR

HOW COVID CHANGED CHILDREN'S LIVES, AND WHERE WE GO NOW

An account of the massive educational disruption caused by the pandemic.

Though Covid-19 hit everyone hard, Kamenetz, the lead digital education correspondent for NPR, focuses on its wide-reaching effects on children in this well-researched, enlightening book. The author goes into welcome depth on the consequences of a year without in-person schooling, chronicling her interviews with children who have health issues and compromised immune systems, those with special needs who function better with a regular routine, and those from low-income families who rely on the school lunch program. The parents are also an integral part of the book, and Kamenetz is sympathetic to their plights with lost jobs due to downsizing or the necessity of child care. Throughout, the author shares the small details of quotidian life, creating a crystal-clear picture of the extent to which the pandemic has affected children. During 2020 and 2021, countless children suffered greater hunger, had an indifference to schoolwork, and became fearful, depressed, anxious, and withdrawn. Their trauma equaled—or often exceeded—that of adults, but few received adequate assistance. Unfortunately, the author also shows how the trauma is not over for millions and that what they experienced during the height of the pandemic will haunt them for years. She is careful to note, however, that “not one of them is doomed.” After noting the ways that government, health, and education officials let children down, Kamenetz offers useful ideas on what areas must change, including an overhaul of the system that determines guidelines for special needs, placing more value on the work of caregivers, and revamping the entire welfare system. No one knows the long-term effects the pandemic will have on children, but Kamenetz gives readers areas to watch as time progresses and the pandemic waxes and wanes in the years to come.

An insightful, educative treatise from a seasoned professional.

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5417-0098-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

THE WAR ON THE WEST

A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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