Member Review

The Poisoned City

Pub Date:

Review by

Erin K, Reviewer

Last updated on 06 Sep 2019

My Recommendation

I'm afraid this is the type of non-fiction that I struggle with: lots of names, dates, and information without any strong emotional connection. I was interested in reading about the Flint water crisis because of the many people it affected, not so much in the bureaucracy behind its origins. So, maybe the fault lies more with my taste than with the writing of this book. However, I was hoping for a throughline that focused on maybe a few families affected or one of the crusaders who tried to draw attention to the crisis (maybe a little more drama a la "Erin Brockovich.") Instead this felt like a recitation of government names and responsibilities. There was a little bit about one woman's fight to triumph over the government's denial of the water making her family sick - I would have loved the book to be centered more around her. Clark's research is impressive, and I did enjoy her broader look into how systemic racism helped fuel Flint's inaction to fix the water issue. Although I expected this book to be depressing, the parts about the Flint citizens' struggles was actually the easiest to connect to and to be interested by. Clark no doubt spent countless hours researching this topic down to the very last detail - and for me, that was the problem. The story was bogged down by details instead of being insightful into the human experience of how heartbreaking it can be when our government fails us.

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