What is Missing?

Non-Fiction - Social Issues
118 Pages
Reviewed on 06/28/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Edith Wairimu for Readers' Favorite

John Nieman’s thought-provoking collection of essays What is Missing? examines important values and traditions that were once the core of American society. In the 1970s, milk cartons were used to spread the word about missing children. Their images were included on the cartons but this ceased in the 1980s. Nieman uses the practice of including such images as a symbol of the values that are missing today which has led to the breakdown of family and society in America. He discusses the changes that have occurred in business, politics, family relationships, parenting, and society in general, and harmful trends that have arisen with the advent of technology. He notes that as American society evolves, useful values such as resilience, simplicity, and spontaneity are being lost.

Nieman injects humor into the essays which enlivens them. The work uses eye-catching images that further emphasize the values it explores. I loved that the collection touches on every facet of society and will be helpful to people from different backgrounds. The tone is friendly and the counsel offered felt as if it was coming from a friend. The language employed is straightforward which makes the essays accessible. I appreciated that the messages conveyed are timely and that the book’s scope was wide. Examining over fifty key values that could restore the fabric of American society, What is Missing? by John Nieman is an insightful collection of essays with themes that readers will find eye-opening and relevant.

Pikasho Deka

The rapid advancements in science and technology over the last few decades have coincided with losing some crucial societal values and morals. This has resulted in halting the development of the American people, denying them the opportunity to live their best lives, where they feel fulfilled and shape and mold future generations to the best of their ability. What Is Missing? by John Nieman explores fifty-one of the missing values the author believes have led to the detriment of modern American society. With the advent of the internet and social media, it is plain to see that people have lost that sense of personal connection. Politics has become more polarized while younger generations no longer have the attention span to read books. In this scenario, is there any hope for the future?

Using poignant words and a refreshingly honest approach, John Nieman raises some increasingly relevant concerns about the current state of the American republic and its people. The author uses traditional milk cartons to shed light on some of the vital issues America faces today as it adapts to the rapidly changing world of the 21st century. Nieman correctly points out a lack of compromise across all areas of life in the modern era. The political atmosphere has rarely been as divided; hate speech, racism, and bigotry have never been so overt, and the economy is declining. Overall, I found What Is Missing? to be an accurate examination of the problems and challenges American people face in these times. Highly recommended.

Doreen Chombu

What is Missing? by John Nieman is a creative book that addresses the missing values in modern-day American society. The author uses a unique concept to present this powerful message about morality, family values, and compassion. In 1972, a young boy went missing, and after a long search, he was never found. The boy’s determined father used his photographic skills to post images of his son locally and on the Times Square screen. Eventually, the missing boy’s picture appeared on milk cartons. More of missing people began appearing on milk cartons, and the idea effectively raised awareness of the issue. The book uses milk cartons as visual aids to remind Americans of values such as spontaneity, modesty, faith, safety, privacy, and many more that have faded.

I loved reading this book because it made me reflect on what matters in life. The book does not only apply to Americans, but everyone in the world can appreciate its message. What happened to being kind and respectful to one another? John Nieman addresses these issues and uses social media trends, celebrity and political scandals, wars, climate change, and many more examples to support his thesis. He provides statistics on the increase in mass murders, fatherless children, and many others. I loved the unique and creative images and quotes on the milk cartons. Each image is artistic and evokes emotion. The corresponding quotes and essays tell a moving story that perfectly translates the author's message. This is a great book to share with friends and family. If you want to bring back positivity, read this book to discover What is Missing? Brilliant work.

Courtnee Turner Hoyle

What Is Missing? by John Nieman explores the once easily noticed morals and values mostly missing from American culture using the style of 1970s and 80s paper milk cartons. Nieman notes our dwindling attention span due to the speed of information and suggests ways to enhance our lives by returning to simpler ideals such as spontaneity, developing a sense of humor, and learning to enjoy common, inexpensive delights.

Without pushing a political agenda, John Nieman discusses once-prevalent values that have become almost non-existent. He proposes the reason for diminished attention spans, cites a withering interest in community and family togetherness, and suggests ways to enjoy the benefits of some activities developed in the past. The milk cartons are beautifully illustrated. The pictures and text align perfectly with the theme, giving the book a well-rounded and appealing look to more visual readers. The information on Nieman’s milk cartons is not revolutionary, but the fresh and novel presentation commands readers to notice.

Some of his suggestions seem like a compromise and a call to action. He asks readers to keep new technological advances but to reintroduce certain merits and practices before they are erased from our culture. Nieman spreads hope by reminding readers they can return to previously held ideals. What Is Missing? is a great selection for readers concerned about the loss of ideals and activities that unite Americans, and those who enjoy expression through visual and written form.

Astrid Iustulin

Our society is changing rapidly, and sometimes it is difficult to understand and reflect on what is happening. In recent years, we have witnessed transformations that have changed many habits and lifestyles. Someone who has decided to document what is disappearing from our daily lives is John Nieman. In his book What Is Missing? Nieman invites us to reflect on things that are changing or disappearing, which he depicts on milk cartons, as was the case with missing children in years past. Together with the author, we will reflect on issues such as spontaneity, privacy, charm, and time. We will also think about why we no longer read books and the state of our relationships—and much more.

What Is Missing? invites readers to reflect on issues we all know because they are part of our daily lives. What I liked about this book is that John Nieman came up with the idea of representing each concept as a lost item depicted on a milk carton, making his book original and captivating. Also, I liked that he gave a lot of food for thought without dwelling on the topics in a pedantic way. I believe this is the best way to give readers an overview of what is happening and to raise awareness of these issues. I recommend What Is Missing? to those interested in the world who want to reflect on the current situation.