TIME correspondent Charlotte Alter defines the class of young leaders who are remaking the nation--how grappling with 9/11 as teens, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, occupying Wall Street and protesting with Black Lives Matter, and shouldering their way into a financially rigged political system has shaped the people who will govern the future.
[Alter] does an excellent job detailing — with persuasive data — what has shaped and motivated this young generation so far ... Alter’s story is moving faster than she can write it ... thanks to Alter’s timely book we can have a better understanding of why an entire generation was set back and what’s driving it now.
The Ones We’ve Been Waiting For is an exploration, not a treatise ... But she’s nevertheless attempting a massive undertaking: covering a list of generation-shaping news events, any one of which could merit a book of its own, with 10 central characters, via multiple storytelling formats. There are 10,000-foot overviews of cultural forces, segments spent tightly at the side of one of her millennial protagonists and brief interludes about particular, disastrous events ... often feels like it’s trying to take on too much ... The book is at its best when it tells stories through the eyes of Alter’s millennial politicians ... These stories are all buoyed by Alter’s sharp writing and engaging voice. She is by turns sarcastic, funny and sincere, but always conversational; you get the sense that she has absorbed and is mirroring back to you how her characters talk ... But when Alter strays from the particular, she loses some of that sharpness. Often, she leaves her cast of millennials to summarize major events or phenomena. In the process, she makes broad statements that whisk by before you can digest what she’s saying ... Alter’s book will come as a tonic to millennials who have grown weary of boomers’ well-worn complaints about them. That’s because The Ones We’ve Been Waiting For takes millennials seriously — and likewise takes seriously older generations’ responsibility for millennial woes, such as economic insecurity.
... well-crafted and informative ... Alter is an exceptional storyteller, whether focusing on Buttigieg’s early struggles to accept his sexuality or Texas congressman Dan Crenshaw’s recovery after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan, and though her progressive views come through, she celebrates the accomplishments of such conservatives as Crenshaw and New York representative Elise Stefanik, who became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress in 2014 (she lost the title to Ocasio-Cortez in 2018). This nuanced and comprehensive guide does an admirable job of illuminating the next generation of political leaders and the issues that drive them.