(C) Ages 8-10, (D) Ages 10-12, Book Reviews, Discussion Starters, Middle Grades, Multicultural, Realistic Fiction
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Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes

A tender exploration of the aftermath of 9/11 as one girl begins to understand her father’s connection to the events.

RR_Towers Falling

Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes. Little, Brown, 2016. 240 pages.

Reading Level: Middle grades, ages 8-10

Recommended For: Middle grades, ages 8-12

Deja and her family are living in one room at the Avalon shelter when she starts a new school for fifth grade. A new school equals new friends and teachers as well as new classes. It also includes a new understanding of her father, a man who is sick, can’t seem to hold down a job, and is clearly hiding something. Sabeen (a cheerful Muslim girl) and Ben (a quirky white boy) quickly befriend Deja (African American), and together the three begin learning about 9/11 with the rest of their class and school. Along with the usual ups and downs of 5th grade, Deja juggles embarrassment at her current living situation, embarrassment over her ignorance of major events everyone else knows about, and embarrassment over her father’s condition.

It turns out that Deja’s father survived 9/11–that’s what he’s been hiding; it left its mark on his psyche as well as his lungs. As Deja and her classmates learn more about that terrible day, she also begins to understand more about her father. He, too, begins the healing process. This is a good choice for kids who want to learn more about 9/11, and it’s also a good novel to use when discussing homelessness and PTSD. A nice complement to Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story, which tells the 9/11 events in present tense, Towers Falling examines the effects a life-changing event has on individuals and their families in the years following. While there is no ultimate hope presented, the novel ends on a hopeful note as Deja and her father grow closer together.

Cautions: Violence (there are references to scenes from 9/11 such as people falling out of buildings)

Overall Rating: 4 (out of 5)

Worldview Rating: 4

Artistic Rating: 4

Talk amongst yourselves...

1 Comment

  1. N. Moore says

    This is an excellent book that I think should be on every middle school’s required reading list. It reads fast as it holds your attention. It has so many lessons in a good fiction book with just enough facts to make you believe it. It is a very engaging book. You feel compassion for the main characters. The bottom line is we are all connected as an American family. We come to America for freedoms and the dream! We become Americans by choice and apart of this huge family. There are no other names such as Hispanic-American, African American, Irish American. It’s enough to be a proud American but we need to respect each other’s cultures and heritage. We need to always be thankful for those who through sacrifice made this our country from the Revolutionary War to 911.

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