As we envision the future of our country, we’re seeking out brilliant and diverse voices to help us understand the challenges that we face—to understand what problems need solving, and what we can do to help make peoples’ lives better. These 12 books show just a sliver of American experiences and history, but they are resources that we as citizens—and our newly elected leaders—can turn to. They help us to understand how we’ve gotten to where we are today and grasp the consequences of how decisions made today will shape our future.
In 2014, more than 47,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States. To put that in perspective, that’s about 128 deaths every day. DREAMLAND tells the riveting story behind this rising statistic—how the unfettered prescribing of pain medications like OxyContin, and the massive influx of cheap and potent black tar heroin, have assaulted communities across America.
This harrowing and candid memoir from the founder of MuslimGirl.com is a Muslim American’s coming-of-age story in the wake of 9/11. In MUSLIM GIRL, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh shares an honest and deeply necessary counterpoint to Islamophobia and the current rhetoric about the Middle East.
JUST LIKE US is a powerful account of four young Mexican American women coming of age in Denver. All 4 girls were born in Mexico and have grown up in the United States, but only 2 have documents. Helen Thorpe offers insight into both the most powerful and the most vulnerable members of American society as they grapple with the same dilemma: Who gets to live in America? And what happens when we don’t agree?
The inspiring true story of a transgender girl, her identical twin brother, and an ordinary American family’s extraordinary journey to understand, nurture, and celebrate the uniqueness in us all. From the Pulitzer Prize–winning science reporter Amy Ellis Nutt, BECOMING NICOLE is a story of standing up for your beliefs and yourself—and inspires readers to do the same.
In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich joined the millions of Americans who work full time, year round, for poverty-level wages. In NICKEL AND DIMED she works as a waitress, as a cleaning woman, as a nursing home aide, and in a Walmart—but when she works two jobs, seven days a week, she still struggles to pay rent and buy groceries. Her stunning account shows just how hard it can be to make ends meet in working-class America.
In this Coretta Scott King Honor Award–winning novel, 2 teens—one black, and one white—grapple with the repercussions of an act of police brutality. Caught on camera, the violence sends shock waves throughout their school, their community, and ultimately the entire country. It’s a heartbreaking novel that seems ripped from the headlines.
A provocative, timely assessment of the state of free speech in America by Pulitzer Prize–winning former New York Times journalist David K. Shipler. Anchored in personal stories—sometimes shocking, sometimes absurd, sometimes dishearteningly familiar—Shipler’s investigations of the cultural limits on both expression and the willingness to listen build to expose troubling instabilities in the very foundations of our democracy.