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Reviewed by Francis Mont for Readers' Favorite
Mandalay Hawk’s Dilemma: The United States of Anthropocene by Peter Aronson is an extremely important novel, written for middle-grade students but it is equally informative and, most of all, motivational for any age group, from 6-year-old to adults. It deals with climate change as it plays out in the US in 2030, less than a decade from now. It extrapolates existing trends to a completely believable yet horrifying status quo in which the devastation caused by massive storms, flooding, and extremely high temperatures is matched only by the total apathy bordering on boredom by both the citizenry and their leaders as they respond to one weather-related disaster after the other; except for three 14-year-old students, inspired and led by Mandalay Hawk, a determined young girl who wants to save the planet. Learning from the failures of past protests, she wants to do something different on a much larger scale. She has to overcome opposition from parents and teachers at first, then the whole American establishment. Her motto is “failure is not an option.” Will she succeed in her near-impossible quest?
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this captivating novel. It is very well written; the language is perfectly tailored to the intended audience. Anyone who has had the experience of raising teenage girls (including this narrator) will find both the characters and their psychology completely believable. The pacing is alternating between sensitive descriptions of relationships on one hand and breakneck speed action parts on the other, keeping the reader on the edge of their seat. The plot and storyline are ingenious. Mandalay manages to fulfill her aim of doing something never tried before, bold and different that eventually leads to her objective of forcing a confrontation with the powers of the country – small and large. The novel is also a goldmine of information on every aspect of the science and history of climate change, describing how and why we got from current trends to an unbearable near future. I was particularly impressed by the seldom heard, yet unanswerable argument that if the US government could instigate massive changes to all walks of life, both private and business, so the country would be prepared for WW2, why isn’t the same possible today when the country is facing a far more severe existential threat by climate change? In addition to all that, the novel is highly entertaining. I can truly recommend Mandalay Hawk’s Dilemma: The United States of Anthropocene by Peter Aronson to both young and old alike.