A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers too young to remember the attack will get a good history lesson about what happened -- including what it felt like to be a New York teen at the time. Parents and teachers can use our "Families Can Talk About" section to get some additional discussion ideas.
Strong messages about the power of friendship and family; descriptions of how New Yorkers pulled together in the aftermath of 9/11 and showed compassion for one another. Ultimately the story is about hope and the better side of humanity.
Positive Role Models
Two of the three main characters immediately want to help; they go to donate blood and look for ways to deal with the emotional impact. The third character is slower to deal with the tragedy but ultimately allows it to have a positive effect on his life and his relationships with other people. As we remember but teen readers won't, New Yorkers themselves set exemplary examples on the day of the attack and afterwards.
Violence & Scariness
Descriptions of watching the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center fall and burn.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A discussion about gay men having sex without condoms. The two main male characters go on a date and make out.
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A few uses of "f--k" and "s--t."
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Products & Purchases
Evocative use of songs, song lyrics, and descriptions of real concerts by groups like U2 that took place afterwards in NYC.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The two male characters drink beer together; one of them is hungover the morning of 9/11.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.