In his last published work,On a Clear Day, Walter Dean Myers imagines a world not too different from the one we live in today: globalization has enabled 8 giant, multi-national corporations to take over every aspect of our lives, entrenching people into rigid socio-economic classes with little hope of upward mobility; millions living on the edge of poverty turn towards racial and class violence as a means of survival; the food supply is heavily regulated and people are starving to death on a daily basis; terrorism is on the rise in all parts of the world; and the global education system has been dismantled in favor of limited, online educational opportunities for the lucky few.
Sixteen year old Dahlia, a mathematical genius, lives in a poverty stricken favelos in the Bronx. Her future appears to lead only to dead ends: “We, me, Maria, everybody in the Bronx, we were the wretched of the earth, wandering through our lives like sheep in a storm, struggling to make sense of what was not sensible. I was feeling sorry for myself.” (4) But when she’s contacted by a couple of seemingly well-financed guys who invite her to be a part of a group they’re building to try to affect some global change, Dahlia is intrigued, and figures doing something, even if she doesn’t know exactly what, is better than doing nothing at all: “there’s going to be a conference in London of people from around the world who have the idea that we can save the world. I’ve been invited to the meeting and want to bring some people with me. Very bright people who want to redirect the way the world works.” (14)
Turns out there’s a lot more at stake than just agreeing to attend a summit of brilliant activists in London: the eclectic group of teens that she joins all have mad skills in a wide variety of areas, from military training to computer hacking, and first and foremost they have to figure out if they can trust each other, overcoming their egos, biases, and secrets to form a dynamic, cohesive team. Add to this the threat of corporate spies, intrigue, and the deadly repercussions of challenging the C8 corporations, and the stakes quickly become do or die for Dahlia and her friends. Eventually they face a bloody showdown on the streets of Miami with the leader of a terrorist organization from Northern Africa who may or may not be funded by a C8 corporation and is determined to bring war and carnage onto American soil.
Inspired by the Occupy Movement he witnessed in London, Myers’ On a Clear Day is a call to action for today’s youth: “Today, many giant corporations already control large segments of our lives and threaten to become even more intrusive and manipulative if we allow them. Our teens will either be coconspirators by ignoring the global intentions of these companies (think teenagers lining up to buy athletic shoes made by exploited workers in another country) or become part of the much-needed solutions to counter corporate power. It’s never too soon for young people to bring their awareness and energy to the world’s problems.” While I’m sure he intended this book to be the first in a series (perhaps each book would have been from the POV of each of the 6 teens in the group), On a Clear Day can and does stand alone as a thoughtful examination of the direction our world is headed in and an insightful voice for the power of a determined group to create positive, lasting change: “I hope we will fight together for a clear day in which everyone sees every truth.” (75)
- Posted by Cori