A young activist’s fresh take on climate change.
Readers reluctant to open another discouraging scientific explanation or call to action may perk up to discover that this is neither. In his first book, Sherrell, born in 1990, reveals that he has been obsessed with human-induced climate change for a decade. For the past five years, he has worked as an organizer at NY Renews, a statewide coalition aiming to reduce carbon emissions, mostly by lobbying New York’s government. A workaholic who spends his days on the phone, answering emails, attending meetings, and planning demonstrations, the author is deeply committed to fighting what he calls “the Problem”—and unlike many in his position, he understands that victories are few and less than complete. Here, the author unburdens himself, demonstrating the creativity that won him a Fulbright grant in creative nonfiction. Rather than delivering a polemic, autobiography, or confessional, Sherrell structures the narrative as a long letter to a hypothetical child that he hasn’t yet decided to bring into this fraught world. He is careful to note that “my aim here is not to wield you as a political cudgel.” Readers may approach the book as memoir since he recounts details of his background, education, social life, beliefs, and doubts, sometimes through conversations with friends, parents (sympathetic), therapists, and colleagues, sometimes through the words of poets, scientists, novelists, and the occasional guru. Although the author refuses to despair, he readily accepts the grim scientific evidence and that matters will get worse before they get better—if they ever do. Mostly, he addresses his unborn child, less to apologize for delivering it into a miserable future than to examine the value of his own life. As he writes, sagely, “a letter to you really just becomes a letter to me, replete with its own misfirings, its own blend of hurt and care.”
Insightful reflections from a thoughtful, energetic activist.