The Bookworm Sez: Book on gun violence no ordinary story

The Bookworm Sez: Book on gun violence no ordinary story

Today was an ordinary day.

It had its ups and downs; pleasant surprises came between the mundane and the irritating and you’ll look back at it tomorrow with clarity, perhaps, but its details will be sketchy in a decade. It was an ordinary day which, says Gary Younge, also means an average of seven kids in the U.S. lost their lives to a bullet. In “Another Day in the Death of America” (c.2016, Nation Books, $25.99, 304 pages), he explains.

On November 23, 2013, most Americans were preparing for Thanksgiving. We were marking the anniversary of JFK’s assassination and watching the weather, the news on Iraq, or the Baylor-Oklahoma State game. We were enjoying our weekend. And on that Saturday, ten random children died of gunshot wounds in this country.

That, says Younge, has become too normal. It barely even registers anymore. For awhile, there were websites that tracked this kind of thing but for the most part, the deaths of these “kids” — coincidentally, all boys on this day; seven African Americans, one white, two Hispanic — are unmarked, except to families and locals.

The youngest, 9-year-old Jaiden Dixon, was a “giving soul” with a “valentine” he thought he might marry someday. Preparing for school on a Friday morning, he opened the door for his mother’s ex-boyfriend, who shot Dixon in the face.

Dixon died the next day.

The girlfriend of Kenneth Miller, who was “just three days shy of his 20th birthday,” learned of his death through Twitter. Seventeen-year-old Stanley Taylor was killed over “spontaneous drama.” Legally blind, 18-year-old Pedro Dado Cortez worked for his father and dreamed of learning to drive.

Eleven-year-old Tyler Dunn was shot by a playmate, while 16-year-old Edwin Rajo was accidentally shot in the chest by his best friend. Samuel Brightmon was “conflict averse,” Tyshon Anderson had been shot several times before, Gustin Hinnant was an honor-roll student, and Gary Anderson was killed because he wore a red hoodie.

One bullet tore apart a small town. All devastated families and friendships. Some were in areas where “Nobody knows where the next shot is coming from…. But everybody knows it’s coming.”

Before we get any further, there’s this: British-born author Gary Younge doesn’t overtly advocate, nor does he denigrate, gun control but astute readers can catch a clue. He also writes about parenting, particularly within the black community; about gangs; prisons; and about the NRA and its influence.

And these are interesting subjects but the real power comes in the stories he uncovers in “Another Day in the Death of America.” Younge doesn’t just write about the demises of the ten “kids” he found; he also helps readers understand the men they might’ve become and what we truly lost in losing them. That kind of unflinching journalism packs gut-punching, timely meaning, and you won’t forget it.

“Pick a different day, you get a different book,” says Younge on the randomness of his research, which is perhaps the most poignant sentence you’ll ever read. So pick “Another Day in the Death of America.” It’s no ordinary story.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Email her at bookwormsez@yahoo.com.

More in Life

Homer writer Richard Chiappone. (Photo by Joshua Veldstra)
‘Hunger of Crows’ perfect for winter reading

Chiappone’s first novel is set in Homer, Anchor Point.

Fresh dinner rolls made without the addition of dairy. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Baking for everyone

Dinner rolls skip the dairy, but not the flavor

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: ‘Tis the Season

The Kenai Community Library has always been one of the stars in the crown of the community.

Homer News Ben Mitchell, left, serves spaghetti to helper Pat Wells in the kitchen at a past Share the Spirit spaghetti feed. (Michael Armstrong/Homer News file)
Looking to share some holiday spirit? Here’s how

Share the Spirit serves the Homer community by donating food, essential needs and Christmas presents.

Appease your child’s picky palate with these tasty Tater Tots. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Tots to be thankful for

Two years ago, I spent the entirety of Thanksgiving Day in my green rocking chair, cradling my newborn son.

File
Minister’s Message: Keep in step

Sometimes it takes going half way around the world to learn how to “keep in step” as I journey.

Shelli and Mike Gordon pose in October 2011 at their Halibut Cove, Alaska, home in an Alaska Gothic version of Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” painting. (Photo courtesy of Mike Gordon)
‘Dagnabit’ features tales of ’80s wild Alaska

Gordon’s second book also tells of Ruben Gaines, creator of Chilkoot Charlie.

Before boiling, this handmade pasta is rolled, cut and tossed in flour to keep from sticking. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Pasta by hand

Learning one of the most important task of the Italian kitchen: making the pasta.

Will Morrow (courtesy)
The Great Thanksgiving dessert debate

Our holiday gathering is going to be smaller than it sometimes is, and it was argued that we didn’t need two desserts.

Dianne Spence-Chorman’s “Fig Study” is one of the works showing in the Homer Council on the Arts “Fun wtih 5x7” show through Dec. 22, 2021, at the gallery in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
‘Fun with 5×7’ offers affordable art

HCOA annual art show presents art in a variety of media, all in 5x7 format.

Make pumpkin chocolate chip with cinnamon buttercream cupcakes for a decadent fall treat. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: In honor of ‘Cupcake Mondays’

Pumpkin chocolate chip with cinnamon buttercream cupcakes brighten up the dreariest of work.

Nick Varney
Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: Back off, Zeus

If this wet-n-warm, freeze, then start again, continues much longer, Kachemak Drive will need a complete redo.