Tag Archives: Mona Hanna-Attisha

Book Club Reflection: What the Eyes Don’t See (Round 2)

16 Mar

I had my second book club meeting about Mona Hanna Attisha’s book What the Eyes Don’t see. It was great to talk about this with a different group of people and see that we all hold similar opinions about how terrible the crisis is and how it’s shown us there is a lot of injustice built into our political system.

Our leader mentioned Dr. Mona’s TedMed talk which I’ll include here. She said it’s a good summary of the book. I have it playing in the background as I write this and so far I’d have to agree. This title was selected as the Great Michigan Read for 2019-2020. However, her events in Southeast Michigan were last year and I missed them all. There are a few more events outside my area if there’s anyone else in the state who wants to hear her speak. Another reader shared my surprise that there wasn’t a ghostwriter listed on Hanna’s byline. We wonder if maybe an amazing editor is responsible for this comprehensive book.

Hanna shared how many people knew about the crisis before she spoke out and how many people tried to discredit her when she did speak out. We had a debate about if these people were indifferent to Flint residents and just didn’t care or if they were coving their own butts. We’d like to think that they did care about people but were worried about themselves first. It’s not a great situation, but it seems more humane. We liked that Hanna pointed out that the people of Flint did notice there was something wrong and that they spoke out. They were ignored. They have pushed away because they were poor and minority. But they did speak out. They did care and they wanted something to change. They just needed another voice to speak along with them.

Again, none of us had heard about the DC Water Crisis. We’re all shocked that something of this magnitude is so unheard of. As a result of the Flint crisis, water testing in Michigan has changed and as of this past summer, five cities in my county (not my city thankfully) have found high lead levels. One of these, Birmingham, is a very wealthy community. So it seems the problem isn’t a wealth-based issue, but the solutions will be.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Club Reflection: What The Eyes Don’t See by Mona Hanna-Attisha

9 Mar

I’m glad to say we had a better discussion in our book club this month than we did last time. I think we all felt a lot more vested in this book than we have in some of our fiction books. With Flint being so close to home, most of us related to something in the book as a personal experience we’d shared or known someone who’d shared it.

Hanna picked a great title for her book. She’s talking about a lack of knowledge, not being able to ‘see’ something because you don’t know to look for it. But lead is also colorless, tasteless, and odorless, so it was something the eye couldn’t see. I wondered how much of the writing (and title) were her doing and how much assistance she might have gotten from a ghostwriter.

Hanna had to be very brave to do what she did. I think she was very lucky to have her brother prepare her for the personal attacks she received. We agreed she had a good network to support her when she spoke out. We had a member describe her as ‘hyper’ because she was doing so many things at the same time. One member spent time in medical school and felt that she was typical of many doctors. To get through school, they have to balance a lot of things in their lives and learn to function at a level like Hanna. She also felt that many doctors tend to lose their empathy because they’re dealing with illness and death so often. Hanna didn’t give that impression. She also came off as rather humble. We noticed she didn’t have Dr. or MD in her author byline.

None of us were aware that DC had a similar lead crisis. We were shocked, especially that more people didn’t suffer legal consequences. It seemed appropriate that some of the players in the Flint crisis faced criminal charges. Though we were surprised the governor didn’t. Snyder was so well-liked before this crisis and took a huge fall from grace. Many of us had the impression that he was more culpable than those who were charged. Many of them were likely following orders from higher up the food chain.

Some of the facts that hit us the hardest were about the developmental future of these children. Hanna talked about the PTSD that children can have from their environment and the toxic stress that their environment can create. It was devastating to hear about the home for neglected children with 5,000 ppb levels. With all the stressors in those children’s lives, they don’t have much of a chance.

I look forward to talking about this book with my other club in a few weeks. It will be interesting to see what a different group has to say about the same text.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 26-February-2020

26 Feb

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’m in love with Lethal White by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling). I’ve liked all of the Galbraith novels so far but I think this one is the most engaging yet. Robin’s story is more involved now and I’m really invested in her marriage and how it’s affected by her job. I think this is a great layer that’s been added to the story and I can’t wait to see how it ends.
I haven’t gotten very far into White Oleander by Janet Fitch. Maybe I’ll get through some during my vacation but I’m not going to plan on it too much. I hope to be having so much fun that I don’t get to read outside of travel time! Fingers crossed.
I did get started with just a bit of Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. I hope to concentrate on this one during my travels. It’s nice and long and I think it will keep me entertained for long flights and ferry rides. I’ll be really pleased if I finish it.

Recently finished: I rushed to finish What the Eyes Don’t See by Mona Hanna-Attisha on Saturday. I got the review written and posted yesterday as well. I’m so glad I’ve read this book and understand the Flint water crisis better now. I live close to Flint and it’s hard to believe something so terrible could happen an hour from where I live. It’s really eye-opening. I gave the book Four out of Five Stars.

I was able to review Wild Ink by Victoria Hanley on Monday. It was an okay read, nothing special for me. I think I would have gotten more out of it if I hadn’t read two other books on writing recently. I gave it Three out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I plan to pick up Cuando era puertorriqueña by Esmeralda Santiago when I get back from Greece. I need to get started on my Spanish book for the year. I can’t believe I’ve put it off this long.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: What the Eyes Don’t See by Mona Hanna-Attisha (4/5)

25 Feb

This was selected as the Great Michigan Read for 2019-2020. Regretfully, our library just now started reading it so we missed a lot of Dr. Mona’s speaking engagements. I’m still very glad we read it, though. I finished this book on Saturday and wrote the review immediately. My book club met Monday to talk about it so I cut things close!

Cover image via Goodreads

What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City by Mona Hanna-Attisha

Summary from Goodreads:

Here is the inspiring story of how Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, alongside a team of researchers, parents, friends, and community leaders, discovered that the children of Flint, Michigan, were being exposed to lead in their tap water–and then battled her own government and a brutal backlash to expose that truth to the world. Paced like a scientific thriller, What the Eyes Don’t See reveals how misguided austerity policies, broken democracy, and callous bureaucratic indifference placed an entire city at risk. And at the center of the story is Dr. Mona herself–an immigrant, doctor, scientist, and mother whose family’s activist roots inspired her pursuit of justice.

What the Eyes Don’t See is a riveting account of a shameful disaster that became a tale of hope, the story of a city on the ropes that came together to fight for justice, self-determination, and the right to build a better world for their–and all of our–children.

This is a story that hits close to home for me. My parents met in Flint when they were attending General Motors Institute (now Kettering University). I visited Flint during the crisis and I’ll admit that I was ignorant of what was going on. I was visiting a friend at Kettering and stayed in the sorority house where she lived. I brushed my teeth with the water because I didn’t know. I was shocked at the number of people buying shopping carts full of bottled water because I didn’t know. My friend filled me in quickly. I’d heard about the lead in the water when the crisis had first broken but I hadn’t put together the lasting impact on the city. Just because the water source was changed back, the crisis didn’t end. It won’t end until all the pipes in the city are changed. It could be years. This book brought all of that home and punched me in the chest with it. I had tears in my eyes at the end.

Dr. Mona portrayed herself in a very relatable way. She admitted that her job as a mother to her two girls suffered while she tackled the crisis. She admitted her feelings of defeat. She shared her fears and guilt. I felt that she didn’t hold much back in her story and I really appreciated that. There was a lot of opportunity in this book for her to show herself as a fearless warrior and to brush her struggles under the rug but I don’t think she did that. I appreciated her truthfulness.

Marc Edwards was the most interesting person in the book. It seemed odd that someone from Virginia would get so involved in the Flint crisis but his jaded feelings from the D.C. Crisis made him the perfect ally for Dr. Mona and her team. I’m still intrigued by a tall conservative Republican in an animal tie taking on the government. He was a great supporter of Dr. Mona and Jenny during their research and after. I wonder how much he could have contributed if he’d lived closer to Flint.

Dr. Mona was an unlikely advocate but she was just what Flint needed. I think that all too often we don’t feel we’re the right people to stand up and say something is wrong or unfair. We don’t think we can stop something or tell people that they’ve acted wrongly. Dr. Mona struggled with those feelings and what she could do to keep her patients safe. I think her bravery is a wonderful example to anyone who doesn’t think their voice matters. Her voice was a change-maker. it wasn’t easy, but she stood up and said it and that made all the difference.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha
Image via the author’s website

The ending felt a bit rushed, but I adored it. The wins that Dr. Mona and her team had were amazing and made huge differences in the lives of Flint children for years. The people who helped her were amazing partners and I felt she gave them appropriate thanks. I could feel her sense of relief that things had worked out and it helped untie a knot of tension in my chest that this book created. I knew it wouldn’t end well, but there were some things I was hoping had happened and thankfully did.

Dr. Mona’s initial struggles were hard to hear about. It was rough to know she had so many roadblocks thrown up in front of her and so many people denying a problem when one existed. There were so many people trying to tear her down and discredit her. It was a huge personal attack that she had to prepare to fight and it would have been hard for anyone to stand up to that wave.

Doing the right thing is not always easy. Miguel del Toral stood up and lost his job. Marc Edwards stood up and was knocked down as disreputable. Dr. Mona knew she’d face something similar and she did. Sometimes it’s hard to say things that are true, no matter how ridiculous that may sound. Some truths are hard to hear and sometimes you still need to say them.

Writer’s Takeaway: Dr. Mona’s honesty shone in this book. She portrayed the good and bad, ugly and beautiful, and every struggle in between. It came through on every page. She was suffering physically and emotionally from the stress of the situation and how she had to fight through it. She wants other advocates to know that it’s not always easy and sometimes, there’s suffering involved. But she shone through. There is a light, though it may be hard to see it.

An uplifting and needed story. Four out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Post:
(Book Review) What the Eyes Don’t See… by Mona Hanna-Attisha | Fourth & Sycamore

WWW Wednesday, 19-February-2020

19 Feb

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I haven’t had as much time as I’d like for What the Eyes Don’t See by Mona Hanna-Attisha. My book club meets to talk about this on Monday and I’m not sure I’ll have it finished! I’ll have to make some more time for it this week than I normally would. It for sure is not going on vacation with me!
I started a new audiobook and, as planned, it’s Lethal White by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling). This picked up right where the third one left off and I’m adoring it so far. These characters are great and I’m looking forward to seeing how the tension between them can be resolved.
I had a change of heart about my ebook and decided to pick up White Oleander by Janet Fitch. I listened to the audiobook of this a while back and realized later that it was abridged. It’s been long enough that I’ve forgotten most of what I listened to and I’m ready to read the full book this time. Strap in for a long one!

Recently finished: I was close to finishing Wild Ink by Victoria Hanley! I wrapped it up during lunch on Thursday. It was an OK read, nothing great but still enjoyable. I’ll have a review for it up tomorrow. I gave the book Three out of Five Stars.
I also finished Finding Gobi by Dion Leonard. I have a few quibbles about this one and ended up giving it Three out of Five Stars even when I really enjoyed parts of it. I posted my review yesterday so please go check it out.

I also posted my review of Sarah’s Quilt by Nancy E. Turner since last week. It was a fun story, but I still had some quibbles I couldn’t look over. I ended up giving the book Three out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I still need to pick up Cuando era puertorriqueña by Esmeralda Santiago as a print book, but it might get put off a bit. I do plan to read it this year as my Spanish-language read, though, so I won’t forget it!
This close to my trip, I think I might grab the book I’ve decided to take with me, Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. It’s a longer book, but I think it will keep me entertained for the long flights and I won’t mind leaving it behind if I finish it and want to pick up another book.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 12-February-2020

12 Feb

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I think I’m nearing the end of Wild Ink by Victoria Hanley. I’ve been having more days I can dedicate to reading during my lunch which has been nice. I’m going to be optimistic and say I have two weeks left on this one.
I’ve really liked what I’ve read so far from What the Eyes Don’t See by Mona Hanna-Attisha. I thought this book was going to be a lot of science and politics that would be a drag to get through, but Hanna-Attisha has approached it like a memoir. It’s about her interaction with Flint and the water crisis and how she became active.
I’m already halfway through Finding Gobi by Dion Leonard. This is such a cute story and I love that it involves running! I haven’t ready an endurance sport book in a while and this is getting me ready for tri season starting soon.

Recently finished: After such a rush from last week, I’m not surprised that I don’t have any to add here this week. I think next week will see at least one title, though.

I was able to get some reviews written! I posted my review of The Extra Ordinary Life of Frank Derrick, Age 81 by J.B. Morrison on Monday. I gave it Three out of Five Stars. I’ll have another post about it soon because my book club met on Monday to talk about it.
I also reviewed The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. I’m so happy I finally finished this one because I really enjoyed it and I can’t wait to do another buddy read with this friend because we had a blast. I gave it Four out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I have to change the plan here a bit due to the library due dates (boo). I’m picking out all the formats of books and I think I’ll need a new audiobook first. I’ve settled on Lethal White by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling). It will feel good to be caught up on this series and I’d love to have a little mystery in my life for a bit.
As for an ebook, I’m thinking of The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. I’ve loved his books before and I believe I’m caught up on his fiction after this one.
As for a print book, I think I’ve put off my Spanish read for too long this year. I’m going to dive in with Cuando era puertorriqueña by Esmeralda Santiago. I found this in a used book store in New Orleans a few years ago and I think it’s about time I opened it up.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 5-February-2020

5 Feb

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’m still plugging away with Wild Ink by Victoria Hanley. The part I’m reading is short interviews with YA authors who are sharing their stories and advice. It’s really encouraging, if I’m being honest, and I’m liking it a lot.
I’m excited to have a lot of new books here! My next book club pick is What the Eyes Don’t See by Mona Hanna-Attisha. This book focuses on the Flint Water Crisis. Since I live so close to Flint (less than an hour), this narrative really hits home because I’ve been there and see how differently the people in Flint have to live because of the crisis. And yes, it’s still ongoing.
I’ve decided on my next audiobook being Finding Gobi by Dion Leonard. My husband got me a print copy of this book a few years ago because it combines animals and running and he thought I’d love it. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to pick up the print version yet but I’m excited to experience it in audio.

Recently finished: I finally finished The Dutch House by Ann Patchett! My reading buddy and I were so excited to finish this one that we set a shorter time between our third meeting and this last one because we knew we’d rush to finish it. I’ll be reviewing it in the next week or two. I’m still teetering between four and five stars for this one.
I finally finished Sarah’s Quilt by Nancy E. Turner. It felt like I read this one very slowly though I’m not sure that’s really true. It was a good enough story, but it wasn’t as fun for me as I thought. I’ll still finish the series, though. Again, I’m teetering. This one is either three or four stars.
The Extra Ordinary Life of Frank Derrick, Age 81 by J.B. Morrison never picked up for me. It stayed pretty slow-paced throughout and I wasn’t able to get as invested as I wanted to be in the characters. This will be an interesting book club discussion and I’m curious to see what people think when we meet next week.

Reading Next: I’m not optimistic about starting it soon, but I still have The Running Man by Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King) waiting in the wings. I really hope I can start it before my vacation abroad, but we’ll see how it plays out.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!