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

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  3,375 ratings  ·  628 reviews
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK - The dramatic story of the Flint water crisis, by a relentless physician who stood up to power.

"Stirring . . . [a] blueprint for all those who believe . . . that 'the world . . . should be full of people raising their voices.'"--The New York Times

"Revealing, with the gripping intrigue of a Grisham thriller." --O: The Oprah Magazine

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Paperback, 384 pages
Published February 5th 2019 by One World (first published June 9th 2018)
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May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
‘Dr. Mona’ achieved national fame for her research showing that the children of Flint were being poisoned by lead when the City of Flint switched their public water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River. She was undaunted by governmental officials’ attempts to first ignore, and then smear and discredit her. She knew that her scientific results were accurate and the rising blood levels of lead in Flint’s children were real. Her heroic efforts advocating for their health are inspirational.

Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 –
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
Carla Bayha
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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 signed this copy for 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
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.
Connie G
The Michigan city of Flint was in a financial crisis when the decision was made to change its public water supply from Lake Huron to the contaminated Flint River in 2014. Anti-corrosive measures were discontinued too. People in Flint complained about their water, but the city leaders assured them that it was in compliance with state standards. But General Motors stopped using Flint water because it was corroding engine parts.

Dr Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician and hospital researcher, was
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
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Just what I was looking for, a factual account of just what the hell happened in Flint MI where the water was found to be contaminated with lead. Sadly, it is a familiar tale of a poor and minority community being put at risk from the most basic need (water) which most of us assume to be safe without thought as it flows into our homes. This book was just perfect, because it shows what one individual, with love and compassion, can do. Ultimately this tiny Iraqi immigrant took down multiple ...more
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wow, this was really hard to read at times. Utterly heartbreaking to think about the impact of such sheer incompetence, negligence, and racism on a whole cadre of already at-risk children; the only glimmer of hope being that someone with Dr Mona’s tenacity could be the right person, in the right place, at the right time to stand up and call bullshit and achieve results in a matter of weeks. A level of activism and moral leadership we should all aspire to.

I could have done without the parts on
May 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, audio
The author narrated the audio which often is a recipe for disaster but in this case, works. It is a bit stilted at times but her passion for what she does comes through and overrides the stiffness.
Listening to the book made it tough to remember all the players and their designated agencies.

I have been watching the Netflix documentary on Flint Town which is the story of how the police force cope with crime in that devastated town. The author in Eyes talks about the spirit and resilience of the
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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!!!!
Well, the story itself was fascinating but could have done without the constant reminders of her political leanings.
Kathy McC
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Kat Mayerovitch
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, 2018
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
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Oct 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Nov 03, 2019 rated it really liked it

"What the Eyes Don't See" is a riveting true account of how the government ignored a city that was found to have lead in it for the sake of money and of how one physician and her team resisted and brought hope to all those kids and adults who drank that lead infested water every day- unaware of all the damage it was doing to them- especially to the innocent kids and babies in their critical periods of brain development.

This story explores how Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha stood strong even when
Laura Long
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Dr. Mona Hanna-Attasha is just as good at writing as she is at being a pediatrician and an advocate for kids' rights. I don't rate many books a '5'. This book should be read by everyone. I am happy that it is currently the Michigan Humanities Great Michigan Read. Dr. Mona weaves stories of her family growing up in Iraq into the stories of people struggling for the basic right of clean drinking water. She brings together the hundreds of details of how Flint's water crisis was discovered and what ...more
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book, but my opinion is biased. I am a social work who works in Flint, and Dr. Mona is the real deal. I wanted to learn more about here so I was very interested by the point that this book weaves her story into the Flint Water Crisis. I have her Mars her speak twice, and she acknowledges that she knows her story is only one of many. I knew the details of the crisis going in, but learned quite a few things as well. It is amazing to me how much worse this could have been. I think this ...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.
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Play Book Tag: What the Eyes Don't See by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha -- 4 stars 3 13 Mar 21, 2019 01:03PM  

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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.
“Challenging injustice means standing up for the weak, the vulnerable, the abused, and the forgotten—be it in health, employment, education, or the environment. It means being vigilant on behalf of people who are treated as pariahs and scapegoats, populations that are dehumanized, displaced, and treated as disposable. It means fighting oppression at every opportunity—no matter the place or country.” 6 likes
“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.” 5 likes
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