Towers Falling: 02/08/17
I am normally reluctant to read historical fiction set around events that are still in living memory but aimed at younger generations. So often in these types of books there is the assumption that readers too young to have experienced the event (or too young to remember it) will still naturally feel as passionately about it as those who were directly affected by it.
Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes, though, is different — beautifully, heartbreakingly different. Though it is written about the destruction of the World Trade Center it is set in the present. Rather than reliving events, it looks at the scars left behind and on the bewilderment the generations born after feel because they can't relate.
The story focuses on Deja, a young black girl recently moved from her home in Brooklyn to a homeless shelter for families in another part of the city. Her new class is doing a community project that culminates with the World Trade Center.
Deja, though, struggles with the assignment all the way through. First because she's new and doesn't feel part of this new community / neighborhood. She's embarrassed by being homeless. She's angry over losing her home.
As things progress she comes to realize that her understanding of recent events — recent at least in her parents' lifetime — is lacking. Something terrible happened and it has had lasting effects on the city and on her family.
As Deja learns about the events of September 11, 2001, she also learns about her father's decline — his growing depression, the reason why he can't hold onto a job, and his mood swings every fall.
Deja's experience, with the help of a classmate who has access things she does not (like the internet) is heartbreaking. She comes to learn about the event and the people who died. She comes to understand and internalize the events that she didn't experience.