The Twenty-One: The True Story of the Youth Who Sued the U.S. Government Over Climate Change (Hardcover)

The Twenty-One: The True Story of the Youth Who Sued the U.S. Government Over Climate Change By Elizabeth Rusch Cover Image

The Twenty-One: The True Story of the Youth Who Sued the U.S. Government Over Climate Change (Hardcover)


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Compelling and timely, award-winning author Elizabeth Rusch’s The Twenty-One tells the gripping inside story of the ongoing landmark federal climate change lawsuit, Juliana vs. United States of America. The Twenty-One is for readers of Christina Soontornvat’s All Thirteen, fans of Steve Sheinkin’s books, and anyone interested in the environment and climate change, as well as youth activism, politics and government, and the law.

From severe flooding in Louisiana to wildfires in the Pacific Northwest to melting permafrost in Alaska, catastrophic climate events are occurring more frequently—and severely—than ever. And these events are having a direct impact on the lives (and futures) of young people and their families.

In the ongoing landmark case Juliana vs. United States, twenty-one young plaintiffs claim that the government’s support of the fossil-fuel industry is actively contributing to climate change, and that all citizens have a constitutional right to a stable climate—especially children and young adults, because they cannot vote and will inherit the problems of the future.

Elizabeth Rusch’s The Twenty-One is a gripping legal and environmental thriller that tells the story of twenty-one young people and their ongoing case against the U.S. government for denying their constitutional right to life and liberty. A rich, informative, and multifaceted read, The Twenty-One stars the young plaintiffs and their attorneys; illuminates the workings of the United States’s judicial system and the relationship between government, citizens’ rights, and the environment; and asks readers to think deeply about the future of our planet.

Features extensive backmatter, including a timeline, glossary, call to action, additional resources, and photographs.

Elizabeth Rusch is the author of You Call This Democracy?, a finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults, and more than a dozen acclaimed children’s books, including picture books, middle grade, fiction, nonfiction, and a graphic novel. In a starred review Kirkus called her book The 21: The True Story of the Youth Who Sued the U.S. Government Over Climate Change a “nail-biting account of a still-unresolved landmark case.” She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her family.

“In Juliana v. United States, 21 plaintiffs ages 8 to 19 sued the federal government for undermining their constitutional rights to a safe and healthy environment. . . . This taut, quick-moving story told in short, lively chapters employs novelistic suspense and focuses effectively on people and their experiences as much as on principles. . . . Rusch acknowledges the distinct roles of individuals, the impact of economic systems, and the overarching power of government. . . . Rigorously researched, this work offers a clear summary of a complex and critically important lawsuit.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“An account of twenty-one kids who, with the help of nonprofit law firm Our Children's Trust and lawyer Julia Olson, sued the U.S. government over its lack of response to climate change. . . . Clarifications from lawyers and judges help make the dizzying processes of how the federal legal system works accessible. Meanwhile, vivid descriptions of wild storms, heat waves, and devastating forest fires emphasize the mounting urgency. . . . The groundbreaking accomplishments of the Twenty-One are celebrated, as is the work of young climate control activists around the world. . . . Inspiring.” — Booklist (starred review)