Another Day in the Death of America

I’ve been working hard on making some of my reading more meaningful. On choosing books that make me feel like I’m educating myself in a way that is necessary right now. So that I can’t just be an ignorant privileged white woman.

Thankfully, there are so very many books that can help me on my way.

Today we’re going to talk about Gary Younge’s Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives.

america

Younge is a British journalist who found himself living in the United States after falling in love while working there short term. He stayed, got married, worked, and had two children in his time in America. Younge is a black man and the longer he stayed, especially once he had black children, the more he became worried about the gun violence in his adopted country. As he got to know more Americans, as he came to consider himself as less of an onlooker and more of a participant in every day American life, gun violence became more personal.

So, in an effort to show how personal the epidemic is, he picked a day, any day, and reported on all the stories of children shot to death on that day.On an average day, seven children will be shot. On the day Younge picked, November 23, 2013, ten children aged nine to nineteen were killed by guns. Younge spent eighteen months travelling around, talking to the people who loved them, those who were there, the mothers, fathers, friends, cousins left shattered in the wake of such unnecessary loss.

The children he profiles were black, white, hispanic. They were students, athletes, little kids who played in the streets until the lights came on. They fell in doorways, at sleepovers, in their own homes, on street corners. Their lives ended in California, Indiana, Illinois, New Jersey and Texas. They all left behind completely devastated families.

Gary Younge profiles these short lives with empathy and compassion. He speaks freely about how occasionally he messed up and didn’t approach grieving relatives with the space they needed to feel comfortable speaking with them. Over the course of the book, you can see Younge getting more and more involved in his subject matter.

This is a book about what happens when you don’t have gun control. Americans are no more inherently violent than anybody else. What makes its society more deadly is the widespread availability of firearms. Every country has its problems, unique to its own history and culture. But in no other Western society would this book be possible.

Another Day in the Death of America is an incredibly researched portrait of an epidemic that does not discriminate against its victims. I read most of it with my mouth open, horrified with the ease with which these young lives were wiped out. And I’m not sure really where it left me. Gary Younge and his family have since moved back to the UK.

One final note: this book has been optioned as a movie with David Oyelowo to star as Gary Younge.

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13 thoughts on “Another Day in the Death of America

  1. Thanks for your excellent summary. I’m not sure I could stand to read this book. The gun issue in this country really confounds me. That this is allowed to continue shows there is something very wrong here.

  2. whoa. it’s books like this that make me thankful/relieved/proud I’m Canadian, but obviously, it’s important to acknowledge this heartbreak. And so frustrating that so many people actively try to block gun control!

    • “important to acknowledge this heartbreak.” YES. I think that’s why I’m drawn to these books. I just finished one about the Norway Massacre that seriously SHREDDED me. Why? I don’t live there. But it’s so important to acknowledge these things, to make sure that they don’t happen where you live. Thanks for articulating that for me!

  3. I can’t believe 7 kids are shot every day in the US, and we don’t even know about it! Maybe my head has been buried in the sand, but I had never heard that statistic before. How horrifying. I think I’ll be staying put for the time being. And I’m glad he wrote this book.

    (Btw, when I read your post title I was worried. I thought maybe you’d slid further into despair. But then I realized it was the title of the book – relief!)

    • hahahaha no I’m not at breaking point, thankfully.
      Isn’t that statistic horrifying??? When you hear it put that way, it really changes the conversation. I was so impressed with Younge’s ability to write this book compassionately with so little judgement. The kind of book that will hopefully draw some more people out of the sand.

  4. This sounds like a perfect fit for my NF stack. Another not-uplifting – but, yes, meaningful – tale. Still struggling to get a bit of balance into that stack!

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