Nine Days

Common Sense Media says

Gripping search for missing dad, based on a true story.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

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

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.

Violence

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).

Sex

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.

Language

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

Consumerism

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
Not applicable

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.

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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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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?

Book details

Author:Fred Hiatt
Genre:Adventure
Topics:Adventures, Friendship, Great boy role models, Great girl role models, History
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Delacorte Press
Publication date:April 9, 2013
Number of pages:256
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 17
Available on:Hardback, iBooks, Kindle, Nook

This review of Nine Days was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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