The 100 Must-Read Books of 2021
November 29, 2021 8:16 AM EST

In The Kissing Bug: A True Story of a Family, an Insect, and a Nation’s Neglect of a Deadly Disease, journalist Daisy Hernández revisits the disease that took her aunt’s life, and in doing so, delivers an indictment of racism and poverty in the U.S. As a child, Hernández believed that her aunt became ill after eating an apple; later, she learned that her infectious sickness was actually Chagas, a disease that is spread by a parasite carried by triatomine, or “kissing” bugs. While the insect is endemic to Latin America, more than 300,000 people in the U.S. suffer from Chagas—but few have heard of the illness or the treatments that can prevent its fatalities. In her reporting, Hernández draws a clear line between the disease, which disproportionately affects people who don’t have the resources to seek treatment, to the legacy of racism and how it impacts health care in the U.S.

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