cover image Warmth: Coming of Age at the End of Our World

Warmth: Coming of Age at the End of Our World

Daniel Sherrell. Penguin, $17 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-0-143136-53-8

Climate activist Sherrell brilliantly balances despair and hope in his searing debut that confronts the impending climate catastrophe. A 30-something organizer who led the successful Sierra Club campaign to pass clean energy legislation in New York State, he shares his inner struggle with what he refers to as “the Problem”: the looming threat to all life from global warming. Written as a letter to Sherrell’s hypothetical future child, the story opens in 2018 with the fatal self-immolation of civil rights lawyer David Buckel, in protest to reliance on fossil fuels. Harrowing as it was, Sherrell notes, the suicide was quickly forgotten. That somber realization led to Sherrell’s nuanced reflections on how a caring and thoughtful person should respond to climate change by paying attention and taking action, and his fears “that maybe it didn’t matter what you did.” He also powerfully details the impacts of climate change, notably the devastation wrought by an “accelerating chain” of storms, including Hurricanes Sandy (2012) and Maria (2017). His framing device, however, allows him to look beyond the grave immediate challenges—exacerbated by the Trump administration’s “aggressive course of fossil fuel expansion”—to imagine his child alive at 90 in a world that (hopefully) still exists. This indelible, necessary work makes a global issue deeply personal. (Aug.)