Warmth: Coming of Age at the End of Our World

Penguin Pr. Aug. 2021. 272p. ISBN 9780143136538. pap. $17. NAT HIST
Warmth opens with a reflection on death, in the aftermath of the 2018 suicide by self-immolation of lawyer and environmental activist David Buckel. Climate activist Sherrell shares his personal and political response to Buckel’s protest, both in the moment and later, as he processed it through discussion with his family. He writes with clarity and emotion about how proximity to tragedy doesn’t ultimately make one privy to it, and suggests that there is a muteness, an ambiguity surrounding so much of the reality we live with, counterbalanced always by the relentless noise of the media. Sherrell has written a compelling, urgent work which will find an eager audience among fans and draw in others interested in environmental justice. This is the type of coming-of-age book one must read in order to understand what it means to live with clear-eyed awareness of the climate disaster while also continuing to move forward.
VERDICT Brave, honest, and bold, Sherrell’s book is neither blithely optimistic nor fatalistic and instead shows how readers can respond to climate change with circumspection. It should be read alongside the work of climate activists like Greta Thunberg and Jamie Margolin who provide practical models for changing the narrative, even when we know that changes won’t magically engender a happy ending.
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