Children Were Robbed of an Entire Year—Why Won't We Hold the Thieves Responsible?
A review of "The Stolen Year: How COVID Changed Children’s Lives, and Where We Go Now" by Anya Kamenetz
The Stolen Year: How COVID Changed Children’s Lives, and Where We Go Now
PublicAffairs, 352 pages, 2022
Three years into the Covid era, we suffer from a passive voice problem. The true sin of passive sentences isn’t wordiness or lack of precision, but evasion: they offer a way to hint at a problem but back off at the last second, never quite taking a stand, never quite risking being wrong—or being thought wrong.
The passive voice problem, in its purest form, is a cliché, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t real. It’s the difference between the person who says, “Mistakes were made,” and the one who says, “I screwed up, and here’s how.” One is specific, honest, and reflective; the other evades responsibility and introspection while signaling that the next thousand words will say as little as humanly possible.