TOWERS FALLINGFall 2016 Audio Book
With the 9/11 attacks now 15 years behind us, a generation of children wasn't alive to witness them. It's extremely difficult to understand how horrific the day was from second-hand accounts. It's a tricky historical event to begin to narrate for young audiences.
Jewell Parker Rhodes does, though, and deftly. Her novel is a touching story about fifth-graders Deja and her two best friends, Ben and Sabeen, all of whom live in New York. Their teacher has announced that the class will be doing a project that will culminate in the story of the twin towers, two ghosts of buildings that could once be seen from their classroom.
The historic tragedy affected these three children's families in very different ways. Particularly Deja, whose father's dark moods and depression only seem to worsen over the years. September 11, 2001, is a date he won't speak about at all. When he finally does, he gives a heartbreaking first-hand account, and one that paints a very moving and personal, yet not gratuitous picture, of the events that unfolded on that day.
Deja and her two friends, all with their own personal challenges, have many questions as they tackle their school project. Their journey, trying to understand this fairly fresh and complex piece of their history, gives them a broader perspective on their own lives, and teaches them empathy in ways they didn't expect.
While the young characters are very likeable, and interesting to follow, the narration lacks inflection and doesn't add dimension to the characters. The author/narrator is well aware that horror of 9/11 is not to be glossed over. It's not a fun, upbeat listen, and might be best experienced in short segments. But it's one that needs to be heard.