Drift House: 09/12/12
The reviews I've read of Drift House by Dale Peck either ignore the World Trade Center destruction or gloss it over. Regardless, it is the grim starting point of the book and the loss of life is one of the dominant themes of the book. It is also a pirate tale full of derring-do and time travel.
The book begins with Susan and her brothers, Charles and Murray, being driven to Canada from their home in Manhattan. Their mother wants them out of the city until she feels it is safe again for them to return. Although they never speak of the attacks in a direct manner, Susan, as the oldest, is well aware of what has happened. Their flight north, much like the evacuation of the children in WWII at the start of The Magic Bed Knob by Mary Norton, leaves the oldest children with a good sense of how much danger the remaining parents may very well be in.
Susan reminds me a lot of Wendy Darling in that she both wants adventure but also wants to protect her younger brothers. Where Wendy is brought on board to be the mother of Captain Hook's pirates, Susan, briefly gets to captain her own ship. She also has to save her brothers and uncle from some treacherous mermaids.
Susan is the brave sibling. Charles is the clever one. But Murray is extraordinary. He starts as just another annoying youngest sibbling but goes on to have the most amazing and sometimes heartbreaking growth as a character.
I listened to the audio version of the book, performed by Richard Poe. He brings the characters to life and there were times I had to pause the book when I was getting too emotionally caught up in the story.