A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the main story is how three teens experience the terrorist attack on New York City, and the tremendous impact it had immediately on their lives. A budding gay romance between two of the characters is prominent, but secondary to the book's plot point about 9/11's aftermath and how New Yorkers pulled together. There is some strong language and drinking.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Three teens in New York City witness and later bond over the tragedy of 9/11. One high school girl, a gay high school boy, and a young gay college student who have crossed paths before the Twin Towers are destroyed on 9/11 find they have more in common as they try to reconcile the tragedy and its impact on their daily lives. Rushing to donate blood and aching to help and then finding group solace in attending memorial concerts, these teens find themselves growing up overnight with a little help from their friends. Peter and Jasper go on their first date days later, but their romance is over before it starts as Jasper tries to reconcile his despair over the incident.
Is it any good?
Levithan has crafted a beautiful story of hope. His three protagonists all take turns narrating their perspective in first-person, and through their alternating chapters, they bring 9/11 to life vividly -- both for those too young to clearly remember the day, and for those who witnessed it from outside of New York City. References to and quotes from songs the teens love and listen to, including "Love Is the Higher Law," help convey the emotions of the teens and create an immediate bridge for teen readers unfamiliar with that historical day. It's hard to imagine a more evocative or compelling version of this event. Understanding what it was like to live through that day and its aftermath will help readers comprehend American life today.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about where they and other family members were on 9/11 and how it affected them. Why is it important to read books like this that describe historical events -- but also give readers a sense of what it was like to actually be there? Does this book change how you feel about 9/11 in any way?
Why was the music so important in this story? Do readers agree with Jasper that listening to certain songs on 9/11 would "ruin" them forever, or with Peter, who thinks it makes the songs even more memorable?
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