Earlier this summer I posted about a book called nine, ten: a September 11th story. Tonight I’d like to tell you about a second book that deals with the September 11th tragedy.
Towers Falling by Jewel Parker Rhodes takes place in 2016, 15 years after the tragedy (you may remember that nine, ten takes place in the days leading up to the tragedy.)
The story’s main character is Dèja, a girl who has recently had to move with her family to a homeless shelter. The move means she will have to start at a new school. She doesn’t want anyone to know about her living situation and is willing to push people away to keep the secret.
Dèja’s life isn’t easy. She has a younger brother and sister she must help care for, her mother works a lot, and something is wrong with her dad. He is sad and angry for no reason, he has trouble breathing and he can’t hold a job. Deja doesn’t understand because he won’t tell her anything.
Dèja makes friends at school, despite her best efforts. Ben is a new kid too, he’s just moved to New York because of his parents’ divorce, and Sabeen, a wonderfully sweet girl from a Muslim family. The new school seems to be working out for Dèja until Miss Garcia explains they must learn about the history Of their city, one tragic event in particular.
Dèja has no idea what Miss Garcia is alluding to. She asks questions and the responses make her feel like she did something wrong. She has no idea what happened to the World Trade Center fifteen years before.
-I still don’t understand. How can ‘history be alive’? The people in those towers are dead. It happened long ago.
-Not so long. Fifteen years.
-I wasn’t even born. Why should I care?
-A good question, Dèja. Why should anybody care?
Dèja isn’t too blame for her ignorance of history or its importance. She has been purposely kept in the dark. I quickly guessed that her father had post traumatic stress, and my guess was that he was a first responder.
I don’t want to give too much of the book away. I can tell you that the tragedy has touched each of the children’s lives. Dèja’s family is struggling because of her father’s PTSD, Ben’s father is a veteran from Afghanistan, and Sabeen’s family is distrusted for being Muslim.
The children decide to find out the truth and because of their bravery, they are able to help their families come to grips with the past and move into the future.