Review (Plus): ‘Towers Falling’ by Jewell Parker Rhodes

TowersFalling_9780316262224_99601Bookshelf Blurb: 9/11 devastated our nation and for 15 years, children have been born who have no idea of how this event united people from sea to shining sea. History comes alive through three best friends who live in Brooklyn, NY in 2016.

Ms. America’s Review:

As I listened to the laughter and shouts of joy coming from my two children who were happily watching bombs bursting in air, I realized how innocent and free these 9- & 11-year-old boys were. I watched my 9-year-old place a whirly-bird on the ground and then take off running for his life as he knew the fuse would soon blow. Once he was a safe distance away, he turned back to watch the firework launch into the air and explode in a multitude of lights above his head. I didn’t turn to watch the show, but instead turned to watch his angelic, innocent face and see his eyes reflecting the glow of the night.

Feeling my stare, he turned to look at me, then asked, “Mommy, are you crying?”

I shook my head, wiping away tears, and explained, “This reminds me of the book I am reading about a time you weren’t alive to know about. It was a time that made us realize our freedom comes at a price.” He knew I was upset, not an angry kind of upset, but one of pure sadness. He sat down beside me as his brother took his turn blowing something up and asked me again, “Why are you crying about a book?”

Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes is a book of truth. It will make the adult readers pause and tell the young reader in whose hands this book should belong, exactly the time and place they were the moment they learned that suicidal terrorists flew planes into four US locations: the Pentagon, a field in Pennsylvania and into two of the largest buildings in New York City: The Twin Towers.

Jewell Parker Rhodes won the Coretta Scott King Honor Award for her book Ninth Ward and I hope to see her recognized again for her ability to tell the story of 9/11 through the words of a homeless 10-year-old girl, Deja.

After her family of five have been evicted from their home, Deja has to learn to embrace who she is despite her ailing father, a working mother and her two younger siblings. On the first day of school she meets Ben, who is also new and has just moved to Brooklyn from Arizona, and Sabeen, a young Muslim student who has lived in NY all of her life. The three children are in Miss Garcia’s homeroom where this unlikely friendship forms between a white boy, a black girl and a Muslim girl.

Within the first few days of school, Miss Garcia informs her students they will be working on a class unit learning about the absence of the towers which they could see from their classroom windows 15 years ago. Deja is unaware of this event, and through the friendship of Ben and Sabeen, she soon learns of the devastation and ruin. She has to learn how this affected our nation, but also how this event is the reason her father can no longer hold a job or maintain sanity.

Fifteen years has passed since this attack occurred, but to many people, this tragedy will forever be a part of their life. Freedom is given to us in the United States, but present day children do not realize how freedom can be taken away in mere moments. Pass this book on to our youth. Teach them a moment of history through the perspective of one of their 5th grade peers….Deja learns more about herself and her family through our history of 9/11.

Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | 9780316262224 | July 12, 2016)

America Grelinger

America Grelinger doesn’t mind if you call her Ms. America. It makes her head swell and she loves the title. America is a former English teacher and has a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction, now retired to raise two crazy little boys who think the funniest thing on the planet is to burp and toot… which is why she reads. Because it’s cheaper than counseling. Amy and her husband live with those two crazy little boys in Derby, Kansas.