Book Review: Towers Falling (MG)

I received this book for free from Little, Brown BFYR at BEA 2016. That fact in no way influenced my opinion of the book or the content of this review.

Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Published on July 12, 2016.

Goodreads Summary:
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 Review:
I hadn’t ever really thought of how to explain the 9/11 terrorist attacks to children who were not alive during that time. Jewel lParker Rhodes tackles this tough subject in a wonderful way in her new middle grade novel, Towers Falling. The characters in this story are learning about 9/11 in their 5th grade class in Brooklyn, but their also dealing with their own issues. Ben’s parents are getting divorced, and he’s just moved to NYC with his mother from their ranch in Arizona. He knows about 9/11 because his father enlisted after it happened. Sabeen is Muslim, so she is very aware of the discrimination and hatred her people face as a result of the 9/11 attacks. But Deja, a young African American girl, is living in a homeless shelter. Her father has horrible headaches and panic attacks, but she doesn’t know why. And she knows nothing about 9/11.

This is a story about friendship, about discovery, and about the history of America – including one of the most recent, horrific events. It’s about that time during a child’s life when they’re finally old enough to handle the truth and about the adults who struggle with letting them learn it. I absolutely loved this book!

Writing about September 11th in this almost third hand way – reading about other kids dealing with it – was a genius way to approach these truths. Jewell wrote this book in the hopes that it would be taught in schools, and I can only hope that it will be part of the curriculum by the time my son is in 5th or 6th grade.

My Rating: 5 Stars

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  1. Kate, I just re-read your review and it warmed my heart AGAIN. Thank you for understanding what I was trying to do. I am in NYC. I visited the school yesterday that inspired by story–PS 146. "Here and Now" did an interview of teachers from this school and the principal, too. It was moving talking to the teachers who had seen the towers fall and to groups of 5th and 6th graders who were curious.
    Thank you again–all of us are important in nurturing our kids. Your love of books impacts me and our world. AND my granddaughter-to-be—CLARA who will be born in November. Your header says it all LIFE LOVE BOOKS.

    1. Thanks, Jewell! It's hard to believe it's been 15 years since 9/11. Books are powerful tools for education, understanding, and enjoyment. I am happy to share my love of them with others through this blog. Thanks for reading. Keep on writing! šŸ™‚

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