Summary (from Goodreads):
“From award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes, a powerful novel set fifteen years after the 9/11 attacks.
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.”
This is a sweet middlegrade novel that I think will help children who weren’t alive during 9/11 understand what exactly happened. Initially I was like, “How could you even reach fifth grade without knowing about it?” but it makes sense. We don’t really talk about it that much on a regular basis anymore, and if you want to keep it from your kids, it’s probably pretty easy to keep them from the TV on the anniversary.
I love the friendship between Deja, Ben and Sabeen. Each of them have different reactions (especially Sabeen, who is Muslim and who has to be very careful each year as the anniversary approaches).
This is an incredibly sensitive novel and it never feels gratuitous. I don’t think it would scare its audience, although parents should probably read it first (and be prepared for a conversation after).