The Great Michigan Read kicks off in September 2019 and will conclude in fall 2020. The title, selected by six regional selection committees representing all corners of Michigan, is What the Eyes Don't See by Mona Hanna-Attisha. What the Eyes Don't See is a powerful firsthand account of the Flint water crisis written by the pediatrician who brought the fight for justice to national attention. Visit Great Michigan Read (GMR) webpage for author visit information and other GMR events happening around Michigan. CPL's Lunch and a Book will be discussing What the Eyes Don't See on Thursday, May 14, 2020. We welcome you to join us!
This powerful firsthand account from Hanna-Attisha recalls her efforts to alert government officials to the public health disaster caused by lead in the water supply of Flint, Mich. In April 2014, as a cost-cutting measure, Flint switched its water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River, which had been a "toxic industrial dumping site for decades." Hanna-Attisha, who directs the pediatric residency program at Hurley Medical Center, where many of Flint's poor children are treated, received a tip about lead levels and realized her patients were particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning. She recounts how state and local government officials ignored her requests for data, deflected responsibility, downplayed the threat, and tried to discredit the findings of her study, conducted with help from a corrosion expert, which found that the percentage of children with blood-lead elevations had doubled after the switch. That study eventually proved to be the "game-changer" that resulted in the state's declaring a public health emergency and switching the water source back to Lake Huron. Hanna-Attisha's empathy for her patients and the people of Flint comes through, as do her pride in her Iraqi roots and her persistent optimism. It's an inspiring work, valuable for anybody who wants to understand Flint's recent history. This title is available from CPL in a variety of formats including a Book Club in a Bag kit.