In a week, we will mark the 15th anniversary of the September 11th attack. The students I teach are 11 and have no memory of that day. They can only understand it secondhand. In his oft quoted 2013 speech, Neil Gaiman states “that reading fiction, that reading for pleasure, is one of the most important things one can do.” And here is a case to prove his point. My West Coast students will probably understand 9/11 more by reading fiction than any other way. So, this week, starting today, I will share some new, and some not so new, books about 9/11.
YA readers will find All We Have Left by Wendy Mills, insightful.
Sixteen-year-old Jesse is used to living with the echoes of the past. Her older brother died in the September 11th attacks, and her dad has filled their home with anger and grief. When Jesse gets caught up with the wrong crowd, one momentary hate-fueled decision turns her life upside down. The only way to make amends is to face the past, starting Jesse on a journey that will reveal the truth about how her brother died.
In 2001, sixteen-year-old Alia is proud to be Muslim… it’s being a teenager that she finds difficult. After being grounded for a stupid mistake, Alia is determined to show her parents that they must respect her choices. She’ll start by confronting her father at his office in downtown Manhattan, putting Alia in danger she never could have imagined. When the planes collide into the Twin Towers Alia is trapped inside one of the buildings. In the final hours she meets a boy who will change everything for her as the flames rage around them . . .
Interweaving stories past and present, full of heartbreak and hope, two girls come of age in an instant, learning that both hate and love have the power to reverberate into the future and beyond.
What I really like about this book is the way it shows the impact on the people left behind. In an election year where hateful words are being spoken about Muslims, this book is a powerful resource for adolescents.The beautiful, poignant prose will also appeal to adults. I couldn’t put this book down.