July 13

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Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes – Review by Mary Boehmer

Towers Falling is a compelling novel set in Brooklyn, New York, fifteen years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Jewel Parker Rhodes writes an eloquent story about fifth graders who were not alive to witness the attacks on the towers. But as they learn of the events during lessons at school they begin to understand that the past effects the future in a very personal way.

The story unfolds around Deja, a young girl, whose family is struggling due to the after effects of the 9/11 attack. They lose their home and move into a group home in Brooklyn. At her new school her teacher introduces the “Topic” of 9/11 as a history lesson. Deja enters into a personal journey of discovery through pain and anger at her life’s situation, to understanding and compassion for herself, those who were lost and those surviving the attacks of 9/11.

Towers Falling is a welcome gift to the classroom, opening discussions in an area of our history that few have ventured to go. It not only helps facilitate conversation about 9/11 but also about socioeconomic disparities, families, diversity and community. This book is a unique example of life in post 9/11 America and is an inspiring look at what brings our country together through diversity and unity. It is a novel about the strength of words and the strength in a single voice. And an excellent read for grades 6-10, as a read aloud, in a book club or for anyone who likes realistic fiction.

Mary Boehmer is a teaching librarian. She is continually spreading the joys of reading through library clubs, extended day school programs and family literacy events. Along with fellow literacy committee members she is dedicated to providing children with constant opportunities to read, receive books from the library and helping children and families start their own home collections.