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What the Eyes Don't See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City

4.45  ·  Rating details ·  1,348 ratings  ·  281 reviews
The dramatic story of the Flint water crisis--an inspiring tale of scientific resistance by a relentless physician who stood up to power.

Flint was already a troubled city in 2014 when the state of Michigan--in the name of austerity--shifted the source of its water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River. Soon after, citizens began complaining about the water that flowed
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published June 19th 2018 by One World (first published June 9th 2018)
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4.45  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,348 ratings  ·  281 reviews

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May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Brilliant public health story plagued by uneven pacing

I have very mixed feelings about this book. When Dr. Hanna-Attisha was actually talking about the water crisis, the book was absolutely brilliant. She readily shares credit with the other people working on the crisis and gives great explanations on the process she and her team went through. However, the book should have read like a thriller, with the crime (lead in the water), victims (the children of Flint), the perpetrators (the MDEQ) and t
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-sci-med
Available as a 11-hour audio download, read by the author.

This is an excellent book to listen to. The author reads well, and the story gains immediacy from the knowledge that the events therein were experienced by the reader personally. The story itself, about how and why many thousands of (mostly poor minority) people were poisoned by their own government, and how and why none of those responsible were ever brought to justice, is a good one to know and remember, because it will happen again – m
Anne ✨
This is a detailed account of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, when the city's inhabitants were poisoned by lead in the water supply after local government made changes to try and save money. The author is the pediatrician who brought the issue to light and worked tirelessly to gather the data, and fight against the governmental bias, ignorance, and inefficiency that allowed something like this to happen.

In addition to a detailed account of the crisis, Mona gives insightful perspective on t
Carla Bayha
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs
A book that should be read by everybody in the state of Michigan, and everybody who cares about public health and education, children, and their families. You may think you know everything about the timeline and what went down during the "Flint Water Crisis" that poisoned tens of thousands of residents, but you don't. An unexpected conversation between two old friends at a family barbecue--one of them from a family that emmigrated from Iraq--likely saved Flint residents from months or even years ...more
Becky Luetjen
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m embarrassed to say that despite all the headlines, I didn’t actually know that much about the Flint water crisis.... until I read this book.

Dr. Mona is phenomenal in her explanations of the egregious racial injustices in Flint prior to and during the water crisis: from unjust housing policies to undemocratic emergency managers to government officials ignoring/denying the lead contamination problem.

The book ultimately shows what a few determined and educated citizens can do to rectify govern
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was everything I hoped for and more.

When I first heard of the Flint Water Crisis, I was in disbelief. How could people knowingly put others, including impressionable and still developing children, into so much danger just because they were too prideful and lazy to own up to mistake after mistake on so many different levels?

Here we are, in the 2010s, and the U.S. government has come so far; it's incredibly reliable and thorough in all the work that it does to try and improve the lives
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is some very solid nonfiction.

At times I found the writing style a bit too colloquial, but ultimately I do think that's a good thing--the more accessible this book is, the better.

In this, Hanna-Attisha details her work as a pediatrician at Flint Hospital, where after a friend pointed out some alarming information about potential lead poisoning in the water, Hanna-Attisha got to work.

This is a comprehensive dive into the Flint water crisis. It's not a complete picture--Hanna-Attisha mentions
Susannah Nichols
As a Michigan resident and someone who followed the Flint water crisis reasonably closely, I learned a lot from this book. Dr. Mona tells a well-paced and engaging story while weaving in a lot of background information on the history of Flint, national water regulations, and Michigan politics. Although I've read criticism of the way she incorporates so much of her family history into the narrative, I appreciated that because I think it's very much part of her story and what compelled her to make ...more
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: public-health
This is an incredible book about the Flint water crisis and how powerful it is to use your voice to right the wrongs around you and make a real difference. Surprisingly, this book read as a thriller and was difficult to put down! I was fascinated by all the hard work behind the scenes that took place for the lead in water crisis in Flint to be publicized.
I loved the stories Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha told of her Chaldean-Assyrian family from Iraq – how her family history helped shape her advocacy a
Rose Peterson
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For a long time, Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy has been the book I can't stop talking about and recommending; What the Eyes Don't See will now join it as the book I will suggest to everyone, from my family to the people in line next to me at the grocery store. Dr. Mona brings readers along for every step of her journey into Flint's water contamination, weaving in stories of her own rich Iraqi history and past public health issues. Her clear and approachable prose makes it clear for anyone to see ...more
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best books I’ve read this year. Told from Dr. Mona, the pediatrician who exposed the levels of lead in her youngest patients, it is a story of family, science, collaboration, resistance, immigration, and activism. It is engaging, well written, inspiring and infuriating. She writes in a manner that shows her vulnerability and intelligence, the impact on the flint water crisis had on kids and her family. Amazing read!!!!
Cathy Les
The story is interesting and important - it's so frustrating to "watch" her fight to get the state to declare an emergency and start getting clean water to the people of Flint! I could have done with less information about her family however. I thought it interrupted the flow of the narrative most of the time.
Mohamed IBrahim
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, socities

I received this copy free from my university when I attended Dr. Mona's talk in our university. She donated the money she should receive so the university officials used this money to buy 200 copy and distribute it.

Dr. Mona sign this copy from me, I asked her to sign in arabic and we talked in arabic for a couple of minutes, she asked me about baklawa "بقلاوة" which was the strangest question I had so far in United States. And by the way She wrote her name "موني" which is wrong as in arabic we u
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
A surprisingly uplifting and positive book, despite the truly awful subject matter (the cost-saving measure that led to the wholesale exposure of Flint, Michigan's children to toxic lead poisoning). Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the child of Iraqi immigrants, is a pediatrician who raised the alarm about lead in the public water supply in Flint, and then pushed gently but inexorably for necessary corrections. She seems to come from a long line of honorable activists and the book is as much a celebratio ...more
Kat Mayerovitch
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, nonfiction
I feel like this is a must-read for every American. Even now, it's so easy to get caught up in conflicting messages. It's the August 2018 as I write this, and locals are still saying the water is unsafe and undrinkable while institutions are claiming the crisis is over, everything's fixed, and Michigan can pat itself on the back for a job well done. What the Eyes Don't See couldn't be a more pertinent book for the times in which we live.

This book isn't an overview. It won't give you a comprehens
Kathy McC
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Flint is my hometown and I want to thank Dr. Hanna-Attisha for her diligence and tenacity to bring this tragedy to the public eye. She fought tirelessly and because of her, the citizens of Flint got the attention needed to deal with the crisis. While there is still much to be done, Dr. Hanna- Attisha got things started. She is a hero!!

"Where is the American Dream in the Flint scenario? It's not there. It's not even talked about. It is becoming so out of reach. At the end of their lives, most
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Dr. Hanna-Attisha is a true American hero. Her diligence, dedication, and passion for justice ring loud and clear in this fascinating book, which reads like a memoir with elements of suspense and political intrigue. It would have been easy for her to fall back on medical jargon and the nitty gritty of the science, but she adds a great human element in it that includes her own personal reasons for caring as much as she does for the children and families of Flint. She does crucial work in training ...more
Gary Street
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very powerful book, describing the totally inept governmental leadership that led to the Flint water crisis. Dr. Mona led the charge to bring it into the open. Fortunately she also had several equally dedicated individuals that provided critical support to her mission.

I felt an important point of the book is that she and her family are immigrants from Iraq. Her father has a PhD in Metallurgy, her brother is an attorney, and she is an MD (pediatrics). They are productive Americans. Yet
Sabeeha Ahmed
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. This book has given me all the feelings. Anger, sadness, hope, joy, resilience and determination. This is such a stunning account told in the most gripping way. The Flint water crisis is now infamous for the impact harsh austerity can have on a community, especially when those in power disregard you for whatever reason (racism, greed, capitalism, power). I have read tons of books on Detroit, the bankruptcy, and all the various affects on people, especially people of color. But this story op ...more
Oct 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved how Dr. Mona blends the personal (her involvement in environmental justice, her family's history with persecution and fighting for justice in Iraq) and the professional (history of lead, the science behind water safety) and where these stories intersect (when she learned that Flint water was not safe for her "Flint Kids"). I had to share tidbit after tidbit of things I learned in this book (as anyone who follows my Instagrams stories knows). The story of Flint is so frustrating and sad w ...more
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A touching account of a pediatrician, researcher, scientist, who happens to find that children in the city of Flint are being poisoned with lead. She ends up notifying authorities who are reluctant to do anything and she is forced to get people to help her and whistleblow what is happening. The story is a doozy and involves corrupt politicians and disenfranchised citizens whose city has been taken over by politicians who have no obligation to answer Flint’s concerns. Important book.
Carolyn J
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"What the Eyes Don't See" is written by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician who presented irrefutable proof that children suffered debilitating harm as a result of lead leached into Flint's water supply since the county voted to switch its source from Lake Huron to the Flint River.

She, along with a team of researchers, environmentalists, scientists, and public health activists advocated for transparency in government, environmental justice, truth in science, and safety for all humanity aga
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I pre-ordered this book the moment it was available, because I knew it would be incredible, and I wanted to support Dr Mona — who I consider a friend, mind you. Owning this book, however, meant that I took a few extra weeks to get to it, because the pressure of not having a due date meant I kept putting it off in favour of library books that did have due dates.

Having said that, I began it just a few days ago and devoured it eagerly. Some aspects of this books are not news to me — as a pediatrici
Deborah Beamish
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a must read! It blends personal memoir with the story behind the Flint water crisis and how a group of dedicated advocates forced state government to address the crisis. Eye-opening and infuriating at times; it is also a story of hope!
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-bookshelf
4.5/5 — This book is a real eye opener. If you’re like me and don’t know much about the Flint (Michigan) water crisis, then please pick this one up. Informative and compelling, it’s a fantastic testament to the power of doing the right thing against the odds. Dr Mona is an inspiring person throughout this story.
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This is a page-turner of a true crime story, where the crime is ethnic cleansing and manslaughter of an entire population, mainly children. The author isn’t afraid to call it that, which is really important. The water crisis in Flint continues to be one of the most incensing of many examples of the government of this white supremacist country not only failing, but actively harming its citizens. But despite how hopeless this can seem, the optimism, drive, and humanity of the author and the myriad ...more
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an outstanding book on so many levels. “Dr. Mona” is just the role model we need in today’s world where inequality is widening and the needs of people of color and lower socio-economic status are being ignored. It is a bittersweet book about the cover-up of the Flint water crisis, the devastating effects of war on the beautiful country of Iraq as well as a testament to the power of a few who want to change things for the better. It is a fight song.
Michael A
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What the eyes don’t see did a good job in explaining the background of the author and the events leading up to the flint water crisis. It also explained well what happened after the crisis and the efforts that have been underway to clean up the city. The book focuses heavily on the background of the author, so if one is looking for a more investigative account and a less personal account of the story, consider a different book. Also, certain parts of the book that aren’t necessarily relevant to ...more
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very powerful and inspirational documentation of the Flint water crisis and how it was finally addressed. It is an extremely readable blend of science, politics, history, personal stories, activism and healthcare policy. The story is very important and fascinating.
Jean Marie
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wait, what, there's lead in the water, but all the water quality officials are trying to deny or draw attention away from it? Surely we wouldn't casually poison thousands of children in order to save money? But yeah, that exactly.

Mona Hanna-Attisha tells her own story of how she was first credulous and believed the Flint water was fine, recommending it to her patients, then the awakening as a friend who is a water quality engineer started showing her the research indicating there was lead -- a
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Play Book Tag: What the Eyes Don't See by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha -- 4 stars 3 8 19 hours, 14 min ago  
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Mona Hanna-Attisha, MD, MPH, FAAP, is a physician, scientist, and activist who has been called to testify twice before the United States Congress, awarded the Freedom of Expression Courage Award by PEN America, and named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.
“The world shouldn't be comprised of people in boxes. Minding their own business. It should be full of people raising their voices, using their power and presence, standing up for what's right. Minding one another's business. That's the world I live in. And that's the world I want to live in.” 1 likes
“The average annual Flint residential water bill in 2015 was $864—about $300 more than in any other city in Michigan. In fact, it was the highest in the nation.” 1 likes
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