Highlights in the Charts
No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference, Greta Thunberg
Review by Natalie Joyce
This book is a collection of speeches by Greta Thunberg, environmental activist who has partook in climate change rallies around Europe with audiences at the UN, the United States Congress and the British Parliament. Thunberg calls out those who remain ignorant of climate change in the opening pages. She addresses everyone who has “never treated this crisis as a crisis, […] all influencers who stand up for everything except the climate and the environment” and world leaders for remaining oblivious.
Thunberg’s passion is present in her words and felt on every page, with a genuine concern for our planet’s future expressed through justified frustration and anger. This book is a polemic for those who choose to look the other way either out of fear or selfishness, refusing to acknowledge their part in this environmental tragedy. She has however, been ridiculed by the media and become a target for critics, with many calling her a “brainwashed child” and a puppet of cynical adults. But she is also recognised as a leading figure in the environmental movement, with Sir David Attenborough commending her. By getting people to face the reality of climate change, he describes what she has done as “astonishing and admirable.”
She remains a defiant figure, unfazed by criticism and those who attempt to bring her down. She pushes on with her mission to tackle the climate crisis, encouraging people to reduce their carbon footprint and live more sustainably. No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference may seem like a scaremongering read, but it is the reality of the climate catastrophe we face - there is no Planet B. Climate change is the most critical issue of our time and to deny it is purely ignorant. Thunberg speaks the unvarnished truth that so many of us fear. We must simply listen to science, so we can restore nature.
One of Them: An Eton College Memoir, Musa Okwonga
Review by Cassie Waters
For many of us, Eton and elite private schools feel like another world, an impenetrable fortress of wealth and privilege. Musa Okwonga’s much-anticipated memoir is the first book to break down this barrier in 50 years and it was worth the wait. Okwonga grew up in a very ordinary suburb in the outskirts of London, the son of middle-class refugees. As one of the few Black students, Okwonga’s time at Eton was punctuated by the pressure to take full advantage of his education and to not conform to his peers’ stereotypes about young Black men. The weight of this is felt through the stoic, yet raw prose.
Despite his attempts to remain undetected, racism and the overwhelming whiteness of the school still lurk around every corner. It is only years later that Okwonga hears about the racist remarks that were made behind his back, including a sickening moment when a student said that he wished he could tell Okwonga that his ancestor was a slave owner. I was fascinated to read about how Etonians earn a strong sense of confidence from such a young age.
Okwonga suggests it comes from their surroundings: the architecture, the school rules and even their morning suits, “the greatest proof of my status is my uniform.” The book tracks how as children, this sense of power and privilege impacts the adult lives of many men who run our country. With a third of our post-war Prime Ministers being Old Etonians, this is a fascinating insight into some of the experiences that shaped our country’s leaders and how it has led to our current society.
Playing Nice, J. P. Delaney
Review by Emma Ferguson
When a hospital accidentally mixes up two premature babies, it leads to a child swap which is uncovered two years later. As a result of this, two sets of parents are faced with the bizarre situation of raising each other’s biological children. They decide to intertwine their lives, coming to an amicable agreement that prioritises nurture over nature. However, this rapidly falls apart when it becomes clear that each family has different ideas of how things are going to work and relationships immediately turn hostile. One father makes it clear - no one will stand in the way of him getting his son back. This story slowly reveals the actions of a psychopath parent, intent on ruining the lives of all that prevent him from achieving his ultimate goal: taking both children as his own.
At first, I was sceptical of how such a family-oriented story could be the dynamic and engaging thriller it is described as. Reading about the mundane everyday life of parenting a toddler did not exactly appeal to me in the beginning, but thankfully the story becomes much more than this. Where the parental narrative threatens to become too heavy, Delaney cleverly interjects with a chapter focusing on legal proceedings, most of which reveal shocking plot points that recaptured my interest. As the book progresses, the odds become stacked in the psychopath’s favour. This keeps you guessing, just how will the parents save both children from this awful man? An excellent read, I would recommend this book to all those who enjoy psychological thrillers.