Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Book review - Towers Falling

Title: Towers Falling
Author: Jewell Parker Rhodes
Genre: realistic fiction
Similar books: Nine, Ten: a September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin
                     Hold Fast by Blue Balliett
lovely complex story

Summary(provided by publisher): When her fifth-grade teacher hints that a series of lessons about home and community will culminate with one big answer about two tall towers once visible outside their classroom window, Deja can't help but feel confused. She sets off on a journey of discovery, with new friends Ben and Sabeen by her side. But just as she gets closer to answering big questions about who she is, what America means,
and how communities can grow (and heal), she uncovers new questions, too. Like, why does Pop get so angry when she brings up anything about the towers?
Award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes tells a powerful story about young people who weren't alive to witness this defining moment in history, but begin to realize how much it colors their every day.

My opinion: Just last week I praised Nora Raleigh Baskin for telling a September 11 story that personalized the tragedy without a great deal of up close emotion. Rhodes' approach is the exact opposite. While the setting is fully modern, we see the ongoing emotional effect of September 11 on a few kids. Struggles continue for a survivor and for a middle-eastern family. This is more than a September 11 story though. It's a story about homelessness, depression, and divided families. Its about finding a place to belong when you're full of anger and fatigue and confusion. It's a beautiful, tough story that resolves with hope rather than with solutions. If you can only choose one book to bring the September 11 tragedy home to middle grader readers, this may well be that book.

Advanced reader copy provided by NetGalley.

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