Poisoned Water: How the Citizens of Flint, Michigan Fought for Their Lives and Warned the Nation
Candy J. Cooper and Marc Aronson
Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Published May 19, 2020
About Poisoned Water: How the Citizens of Flint, Michigan Fought for Their Lives and Warned the Nation
Based on original reporting by a Pulitzer Prize finalist and an industry veteran, the first book for young adults about the Flint water crisis.
In 2014, Flint, Michigan, was a cash-strapped city that had been built up, then abandoned by General Motors. As part of a plan to save money, government officials decided that Flint would temporarily switch its water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River. Within months, many residents broke out in rashes. Then it got worse: children stopped growing. Some people were hospitalized with mysterious illnesses; others died. Citizens of Flint protested that the water was dangerous. Despite what seemed so apparent from the murky, foul-smelling liquid pouring from the city’s faucets, officials refused to listen. They treated the people of Flint as the problem, not the water, which was actually poisoning thousands.
Through interviews with residents and intensive research into legal records and news accounts, journalist Candy J. Cooper, assisted by writer-editor Marc Aronson, reveals the true story of Flint. Poisoned Water shows not just how the crisis unfolded in 2014, but also the history of racism and segregation that led up to it, the beliefs and attitudes that fueled it, and how the people of Flint fought-and are still fighting-for clean water and healthy lives.
I didn’t know much about what happened in Flint, Michigan with the water crisis. I remembered hearing something about lead in the pipes and seeing shocking footage of a resident turning on her tap and brown, gross water coming out of it. But that was about the extent of my knowledge.
Then I read POISONED WATER. And I kept thinking, this is happening in my country. I kept waiting for some leader somewhere within the government to take a stand for the rights of the citizens. For their children. Because having access to clean drinking water is such a basic human right that until reading this book, I had taken it completely for granted.
As the residents organized and raised alarm bells and continued to report problems, I kept thinking, surely this time it will bring about some change.
I can’t help admiring the citizens who continued to speak out, kept making phone calls, persisted in reaching out to anyone who would listen. The author makes it clear that those are the real heroes in the story of Flint.
I think this is a must-read book for teens and adults. It’s really accessible and straightforward, easy to read, but in no way dumbed-down. It’s packed with personal stories, facts, timelines, and references to other resources. I highly recommend POISONED WATER.
Recommended for Ages 14 up.
The author is white. The text contains many personal stories of people of color who make up the majority of the population of Flint.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used a couple times.
References to church and religious organizations. Pastors played a significant role in organizing the citizens and protesting.
Note: I received a free copy of POISONED WATER in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support the costs of running this blog.