Ground Zero: A Novel of 9/11
Author: Alan Gratz
Published: February 2, 2021
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: August 29- September 4, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars
It’s September 11, 2001. Brandon, a 9-year-old boy, goes to work for the day with his dad . . . at the World Trade Center in New York City. When two planes hit the towers, Brandon and his father are trapped inside a fiery nightmare as terror and confusion swirl around them. Can they escape — and what will the world be like when they do?
In present-day Afghanistan, Reshmina is an 11-year-old girl who is used to growing up in the shadow of war, but she has dreams of peace and unity. When she ends up harboring a wounded young American soldier, she and her entire family are put in mortal danger. But Reshmina also learns something surprising about the roots of this endless war.
It just seems hard to believe that it has been 20 years since 9/11 happened and our world changed forever. It’s even harder to believe that there are those who will not have a memory of it and will just learn about it in the history books. Ground Zero by Alan Gratz is a book every middle schooler must read. Really everyone out there must read.
We have two time periods with two children the focus: 9-year-old Brandon on September 11, 2019 and 11-year-old Reshmina on September 11, 2019. The same day 18 years apart that end up being connected together. Brandon was suspended from school and is going to work with his father as dad cannot afford to take time off of work. Where Dad works is Windows on the World- a restaurant on the 107th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center… Reshmina and her twin brother Pasoon live in a small village in Afganistan and nearby there is a battle and Reshmina finds herself helping an injured American solider thus possibly putting her family and village in terrible danger.
Initially, I was more interested in Brandon’s story of experiencing that day from inside one of the towers, But soon I became just as entranced with Reshmina’s story. And when a common connection is realized, the reader feels so much more emotion. The short chapters alternate between Brandon and Reshmina and they each tend to end on cliff hangers which keep you reading.
Ground Zero is a powerful novel that brings back memories and emotions of that day. There is a 14-page author’s note that must be read as well. The author explains that there are a few liberties made for the story- but this is historical fiction and not non-fiction.
Gratz mentioned he tried to write a novel about 9/11 but it was never right for him. This novel was published earlier this year, in time for the 20th anniversary and I think it came at the perfect time. We must never forget what happened on that day 20 years ago and share the history for future generations, while Reshmina’s story shows what happens if events are never told.”
Though Ground Zero is written for the middle grades age group, everyone must read this book. Even both the front and back covers can bring out emotions. The front showing the destruction of the towers with a boy standing there and the back showing a picture of the twin towers before 9/11.
Ground Zero is very highly recommended.