Who We Are Now

Stories of What Americans Lost and Found during the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Michelle Fishburne

Who We Are Now

248 pp., 5.5 x 8.5, 4 halftones, 1 map

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-7123-9
    Published: March 2023
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-7124-6
    Published: January 2023
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-6324-9
    Published: January 2023

Documentary Arts and Culture

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Awards & distinctions

A 2023 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Michelle Fishburne did the unthinkable during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic: she motor-homed 12,000 miles all over the United States and sat down with hundreds of people face to face. People shared what their lives were like, what made them struggle, and what surprised them. The personal histories in this book show a diversity of American lives, from the young college student who finds unexpected fame on TikTok to a special-education teacher sharing the challenges of remote learning. Everyone's story is different. Some, like Fishburne, lost their jobs. Others lost family, friends, and even their own health and well-being. And yet among the difficulties, many found something that had eluded them before the pandemic. These testimonies offer a glimpse into what people across America lost and found during the pandemic's critical first year. Fishburne lets us hear people's stories as if we were there, in real time, at the beginning of COVID-19, when employment was uncertain, schools were online, and American life more unpredictable than ever before.

About the Author

Michelle Fishburne is a full-time digital nomad, splitting her time between her 2006 motor home, Airbnbs, and the occasional house-sitting gig.
For more information about Michelle Fishburne, visit the Author Page.


"Readers who believe they’ll never forget the last three years may find Who We Are Now comforting in its ordinariness and everyday-people feel, and it’s lack of divisiveness. This is a book about you and everyone you know. Check it out."—Philadelphia Tribune

"A compact, accessible oral history documenting what Americans "lost and found" during the pandemic. Highlly recommended."—CHOICE

"An important project. The interviews hit powerfully with regard to the loss and heartbreak from COVID."—Southern Spaces

"A profound look at the stories behind what was happening in our country during the pandemic. Michelle Fishburne pulls back the curtain on the lives of ordinary people during this extraordinary time. The stories are compelling and gripping, each so personal, yet we can all relate on so many levels. As a country, we will be forever changed by our time of isolation. Fishburne's book is a time capsule of this defining and transformative moment."—Sky Bergman, director of Lives Well Lived and professor emeritus of photography and video, California Polytechnic State University

"Fishburne gives us a beautiful and, at times, elegiac mosaic of the larger experience of our lives in these unprecedented times. This portrait is maddening, heartbreaking, frustrating, hopeful, and at times inspiring."—Daniel Kerr, American University

"Having just finished Michelle Fishburne's book, I am struck by feelings of awe, gratitude, and absolute wonderment at the strength and resilience of people in the face of what, in my experience, was the most difficult, terrifying year most Americans had ever witnessed. Thanks to this book, I can look back on the pandemic with a new perspective and see that while COVID-19 has forever changed us, many of those changes have been surprisingly positive."—Colleen Bridger, former public health director and COVID-19 pandemic incident commander, City of San Antonio