Nine Days

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
Nine Days Book Poster Image
Gripping search for missing dad, based on a true story.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Kids who aren't familiar with the recent history and political complexities of China and Vietnam will get an intriguing, manageable introduction here, and acquire a good foundation for learning more. They'll also learn about local culture, from dim sum and brilliantly lit skyscrapers in Hong Kong to tiny shops and pho bo in Hanoi.

Positive Messages

Friendship, courage, and determination see Ethan and Ti-Anna through many perils, as does their ability to overcome disagreements and work together.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ethan and Ti-Anna may not show the routine common sense of adults in dealing with the world, which is what leads them to embark on a quest that would terrify any parent. But their idealism, courage, and ability to work together serve them well and produce many positive results.


For most of the book, the kids are dodging suspicious characters and bad guys, and don't know whom they should trust and who might send them to their deaths; Ti-Anna falls into the hands of human traffickers. Ti-Anna's father has disappeared and is probably being imprisoned in China. An explosion that blows up a boat is crucial to the plot (some people are injured, but none killed).


Narrator Ethan refers to the fact that it should be very romantic spending the night in an exotic hotel with his cute classmate, but they're much too worried about finding her dad. Along the way, the teens encounter young girls being sold into prostitution by a human trafficking ring.


At one point, an adult who's supposed to be guarding the kids fails and says "I am so screwed."


Lots of popular brands are mentioned, from food (Snickers, McDonald's) to sports teams (a Vietnamese police officer sports a Dallas Cowboys hat). They're more part of the scenery and character definition than endorsements, however.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Nine Days is a timely, thought-provoking adventure of international intrigue that finds two Washington, D.C., teenagers searching in Hong Kong and Vietnam for the girl's father, a Chinese civil rights activist who's gone missing. There's plenty of ethical discussion fodder, as they do this by running up the credit card bill of the boy's parents, who are out of town, and in the course of their adventures they try to help a truckload of girls caught up in human trafficking, who are destined for prostitution. Kids will learn a lot about recent Asian history, as well as local food and culture. A boat is blown up and some people are injured, but no one is killed.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written July 4, 2020
Adult Written byDamntheworstmov... June 27, 2020
Teen, 16 years old Written byShowman movie13 June 25, 2020

A book like I never read before

This book was amazingly awesome! I read this book in 2 days and I loved it. There were some mild violence. This book is good for older kids(like 11+) because yo... Continue reading

What's the story?

Washington, D.C., 10th-grader Ethan Wynkoop, who's very interested in Chinese history and culture, becomes friends with classmate Ti-Anna Chen, whose parents are exiled Chinese civil rights leaders living in the United States. When Ti-Anna's father suddenly disappears on a trip to Hong Kong, the kids, armed with the credit card of Ethan's parents, take off in search of him. Their quest over NINE DAYS soon takes them to Vietnam, as well. The kids encounter political enemies and organized crime, receive assistance from a friendly local teen, and land in the midst of a human trafficking ring selling young girls into prostitution.

Is it any good?

Author Fred Hiatt is a columnist and editorial page editor for the Washington Post, which helps account for the fast-paced, well-crafted story packed with current issues. While Nine Days could easily have become didactic or preachy, the heavy issues are woven into an intriguing, compelling tale that will appeal to tweens' spirit of adventure as well as their sense of right and wrong. Lots of local color and cultural vignettes as well as appealing characters take young readers on an exciting journey with plenty to think about.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • How might it be difficult for kids like Ethan and Ti-Anna, whose parents are big achievers in their  particular fields, to pursue other interests instead of the "family legacy"?

  • What do you know about the history of China and Vietnam in the 20th century, and what it had to do with the US? What other stories have you read that deal with these events and issues?

  • Have you ever visited Hong Kong or Vietnam? After reading this story, do you think you'd like to?

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