Book Review – Parkland: Birth of a movement by Dave Cullen

Book Review  – Parkland: Birth of a movement by Dave CullenParkland by Dave Cullen
Published by HarperCollins on February 12, 2019
Genres: Social Science, Violence in Society, Biography & Autobiography, Social Activists, History, United States, 21st Century
Pages: 400
Format: eBook
Goodreads
five-stars

Confession time.

I have re- written this review approximately 3 times. Not because I was confused about what I felt about the book, but because this issue – gun violence – is particularly close to my heart. It makes me angry, frustrated, sad and curious. I wanted to be very aware of what I wrote, because it impacts so many and I really want things to change in the US in relation to gun legislation. School shootings, or any shootings for that matter, make my blood boil and my heart ache.

There is a reason Dave Cullen is one of my favourite authors. Obviously, the subject choice interests me (and infuriates me), although, this topic wasn’t a choice but I think, a necessity for Dave to write about, but there is something about the way he writes. It’s honest, fair, with great insight and understanding of his subject. Dave’s choice not to mention the killer’s name is also such a wise and wonderful choice.

I loved his book Columbine. Parkland is different, it feels so personal. The way Dave writes about these amazing young people – he writes about their quirks, sometimes their flaws, worries and talents. I loved learning about the young people I knew very little about. I’m so removed from gun violence in the US, living in Australia. I had no idea the extent of work the survivors from Parkland undertook to advocate for gun legislation change. I’m so thankful for it and for them. We all should be. They did it on their own. I’m absolutely in awe of them.

Why was it different with the parkland movement? Why did it take so long?These young people acted quickly, they had great timing, and a great platform (social media). Most importantly, they were young people who are the future. They were victims. There are more of them than I can name, but David Hogg, Cameron Kasky and Emma Gonzalez are just a few of these activists and names you need to know.

You need to read Columbine. You need to read Parkland: Birth of a movement. It doesn’t really matter the types of genres you usually read. This is important. Thanks to Dave Cullen for writing about it. I really hope that there will be a difference in our future. The March For Our Lives group gives me hope.

Dave is writing his next book about two gay soldiers and of course, I’ll be reading that.

five-stars

About Dave Cullen

Dave Cullen has been covering the blight of mass murders in America for two decades, first with Columbine, now Parkland: Birth of a Movement. Columbine was a New York Times bestseller and the consensus definitive account. Parkland is a story of hope: the genesis of the extraordinary March for Our Lives movement. Dave was with the students from the beginning, with unparalleled access behind the scenes.

Columbine made two dozen Best of 2009 lists including New York Times, and won several major awards, including the Edgar and Goodreads Choice Award for best nonfiction of the year. It now appears on several all-time True Crime Top 10 lists.

Dave has written for New York Times, London Times, Vanity Fair, BuzzFeed, Politico, New Republic, Newsweek, Guardian, Washington Post, Daily Beast, Slate, Salon, The Millions, Lapham’s Quarterly, etc. He has appeared on PBS Newshour, NBC Nightly News, Today, CBS Sunday Morning, Nightline, Morning Edition, CBS This Morning, New Day, Anderson Cooper 360, Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, Lawrence O’Donnell, Talk of the Nation, The Nineties, Hannity, etc.

Dave is a former gay army infantry grunt. Parkland struck while he was in year 18 of a book about two gay soldiers. He will finish that soon. Dave wrote Columbine in Colorado, then moved to NYC. He is uncle to 11 cool humans and 1 adorable corgi, Bobby Sneakers.

Book Review – Educated by Tara Westover

Book Review – Educated by Tara WestoverEducated by Tara Westover
Published by HarperCollins on February 20, 2018
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Personal Memoirs, Women, General
Pages: 400
Goodreads
five-stars

A little change of pace here…I read this book a week ago but I’ve struggled to find time to write a review and I want to do it justice. I have wanted to read this book for quite some time. I feel quite strongly about biographies and memoirs and I tend to read and review them with a different lens. I acknowledge that the story is personal, it actually happened and should be respected.

Educated is a memoir about the author, Tara’s, childhood, continuing into her adulthood. Tara’s upbringing was challenging, she grew up in an environment whereby her parents had extreme beliefs about healthcare, education and the government. Tara, her parents and siblings are mormons, but Tara makes it clear from the outset that the book is not about mormonism.

As always, I’ve done my research, I watched some interviews with Tara on You Tube and she stresses that mormonism was not responsible for the views of her parents and the events that occurred for her and her siblings. There are plenty of practising mormons who still attend school and access healthcare. Rather, her father’s declining mental health heavily influenced his actions and paranoia about the world.

Tara’s situation is extraordinary, she entered university education at the age of 17, despite having no formal education previously. Tara’s family members suffered injuries and illness as a result of her father’s belief about medical treatment. Due to Tara’s lack of exposure and awareness of how other families and children live, the home life she experienced was normal. The beliefs were not questioned by her, until much later.

The book is such an intriguing read. It reminded me of The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. It is about more than just Tara’s formal education, it is primarily about her home life, family, relationships and struggles. Tara’s home life was sometimes abusive and often neglectful. Tara and her siblings were often in very dangerous situations as a result of her father’s actions. I know a lot of people have feelings of anger towards Tara’s parents after reading her book. Tara does not mirror these feelings towards her parents and her siblings. Tara still expresses gratitude for some aspects of her upbringing, which is so admirable.

I had mixed feelings towards Tara’s father whilst reading the book. At times I was shocked, other times angry, but there were times when his responses made me giggle a little. Tara is successful in portraying her father honestly, without degrading him. Tara also acknowledges at the end of the book that she and some of her siblings have different accounts in relation to several events in the book.

You’ll enjoy this book if you love memoirs, or stories where people have overcome hardship in their lives. Tara is certainly admirable and her accomplishments speak for themselves.

five-stars

About Tara Westover

Tara Westover is an American author living in the UK. Born in Idaho to a father opposed to public education, she never attended school. She spent her days working in her father’s junkyard or stewing herbs for her mother, a self-taught herbalist and midwife. She was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom, and after that first taste, she pursued learning for a decade. She graduated magna cum laude from Brigham Young University in 2008 and was subsequently awarded a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. She earned an MPhil from Trinity College, Cambridge in 2009, and in 2010 was a visiting fellow at Harvard University. She returned to Cambridge, where she was awarded a PhD in history in 2014.