#NeverAgain: A New Generation Draws the Line

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
#NeverAgain: A New Generation Draws the Line Book Poster Image
Compelling story of how Parkland shooting inspired activism.

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age 12+
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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Explores gun control issue, what steps could be taken to help stop gun violence, the NRA's financial support of candidates and elective officials, corporate discounts for NRA members, the influence of lobbying groups in politics, boycott of advertisers who support certain TV commentators, the impact of nonviolent protests and marches, the impact of media exposure of an issue, the effect of spreading false conspiracy theories and death threats on Twitter and via social media. Account of the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C.,around the United States , and world: 800 marches in 800 places in all 50 states and on six of the seven continents. 

Positive Messages

"Our first job now is to remember. Our second job is to act. Remember, act, repeat." One person really can have an impact on the world. "We have to learn to love ourselves for what we are instead of hating ourselves for what we're not." "Action is therapeutic." "Don't feed the trolls" when they attack you on social media. "Being yourself is actually a really good strategy." Make the world a better place now. It's literally a matter of life and death. "We have to come together to fight the chaos because division is what causes it." "Refuse to accept the unacceptable. Don't let bullies intimidate you, and don't let cynics kill your help. Love each other as much as you can, hate each other as little as you can, and never, never stop pointing at the naked emperor."

Positive Role Models & Representations

David and Lauren have a close, supportive relationship. They also speak admiringly of their parents, who are loving and supportive. David stands up for his dad when false things are said about him on social media. Both David and Lauren mention specific inspiring teachers by name. David points out the special talents of a number of his friends in the #NeverAgain movement. They work together as a creative team, including Lauren, and come up with bold, creative ideas. David has integrity and passion and doesn't let the online trolls or even death threats get him down or intimidate him. 

Violence

Accounts of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, with mentions of blood and seeing teachers and students dead on the floor, one teacher "bleeding out," and a student hiding from the shooter under the dead body of another student. Mention of getting death threats after the shooting from people who objected to David and his fellow students' comments to the media.

Sex
Language

Occasional strong language. "Hell," "ass," "badass," "bitch," "s--t" (as in "get your 's--t' together"), "s--tty," "sucks," "pissed off," "d--k," "Oh my God," "Jesus Christ." David recalls getting in the car after the shooting, overcome and finally letting his shock and anger loose, yelling "f--k" over and over. 

Consumerism

Mention of David getting a GoPro camera, which led to his interest in reporting. Mentions of a doll from Toy Story 2, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, SciShow, Reddit.com, Vice News Tonight, TED Talks.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that #NeverAgain: A New Generation Draws the Line is a slim, small-format nonfiction book written by David Hogg, 17, and his sister, Lauren Hogg, 14, survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, 2018. It is both a memoir of their experiences before, during, and after the shooting and a call for other young people to stand up, become socially active, and urge politicians to take action to stop gun violence. Their gripping, alternating accounts of what happened on that day include mentions of blood and seeing teachers and students dead on the floor. There's infrequent strong language ("hell," "ass," "badass," "s--t," as in "get your 's--t' together," "s--tty," "pissed off"; David recalls getting in the car after the shooting, overcome, and repeatedly yelling "f--k"). The Hogg family will donate proceeds from the book to charity and local community organizations. Publisher Random House will also donate some proceeds in the Hoggs' name to the American nonprofit organization Everytown for Gun Safety.

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What's the story?

#NEVERAGAIN: A NEW GENERATION DRAWS THE LINE begins with siblings David and Lauren Hogg giving separate accounts of the Valentine's Day 2018 shooting at their Florida high school that left 17 people dead, 14 of them students. These gripping, heartbreaking accounts portray terrified students huddled in classrooms, holding hands with friends or strangers as they feared for their lives and texted with friends and family members to get or give information. The book then gives backstories of what David and Lauren's lives were like before the shooting -- growing up in California, adjusting to a new school in Florida, getting involved in debate club and a TV production class, and in David's case, growing from a low-achieving, dyslexic student to a star in AP classes and student journalism, engaged and politically aware. He becomes politically active after his comments in interviews following the shooting thrust him into the media spotlight. Lauren joins the #NeverAgain movement with him, and together they continue in efforts to stop gun violence. 

Is it any good?

This compelling memoir and manifesto shows how teens responded to a tragedy in their community by standing up and demanding that adults in power do something to prevent it from happening again. The usual "thoughts and prayers" from politicians was not enough for them -- they demanded action. #NeverAgain: A New Generation Draws the Line is written in authentic, articulate teen voices, which should be particularly effective in reaching young readers. David writes that "we hope that seeing things through our eyes will give you ideas of your own. Because none of us can do this alone and we need you, basically."

David is self-deprecating and admits to sometimes being "a jerk" in middle school but also shows how finally connecting with caring teachers helped him grow up, become engaged and self-disciplined, and do well in high school. He explains that his eventual activism was grounded in all he'd learned about American history, government, politics, journalism, media, and even the gun control issue in his classes and on the debate team. Lauren shares the depths of her grief -- she lost two close friends in the shooting -- and how her commitment to working for change grew. David and Lauren's loving, supportive relationship and their warm, respectful relationship with their parents (their mom, an elementary school teacher and their dad, an FBI agent) is also an inspiring model. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the issue of gun violence is presented in #NeverAgain: A New Generation Draws the Line. How does learning about the teen authors' personal experiences affect how you view the issue? Does it help make the issue real for you? 

  • Why do you think people sent false texts about David and his fellow students being paid actors after they spoke up after the shooting?

  • What could you do to make your community and/or your country a better place? What issues are most important to you? How can kids and teens make a difference?  

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