Em’s Book Nook: 9/11 Books



“World Trade Center 9/11/01 attack memorial photo

This past September marked the twentieth anniversary of 9/11. Here at BG we watched a moving documentary that featured questions from students of our generation and stories of heroism, survival, and courage. Although many adults we know were alive during this historical event, we only know it from the history books. Below you will find selections both non-fiction and fiction depicting scenes from this significant moment in American history.

The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett M. Graph

“The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11,” is the story that quite literally tells the entire story of 9/11, through hundreds of interviews and stories about what happened, starting with Sept. 10th, throughout the day. It takes the reader to the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, as well as providing transcripts of voicemail messages from passengers who were on the plane that ended up crashing into the various buildings, providing a tell-all experience for those wanting an analysis of everything that took place.

This book certainly does not shy away from the horrifying details that took place on 9/11, so I would first like to mention that it could be potentially triggering for some readers. Needless to say, this was such an amazingly well researched story that will stick with me for a long time. The quotes filled the book with such emotion, which made you feel like you were actually there with the people suffering, a reading experience that is unlike anything I have ever felt before.

With Their Eyes: September 11th: The View from a High School at Ground Zero edited by Annie Thomas 

“With Their Eyes: September 11th: The View from a High School at Ground Zero,” is a play that was written by several students that, like the title implies, attended high school right near ground zero. It tells the reactions of different students, teachers and other staff members, as they not only watched the towers come crashing down, but also how they opened their school’s doors to host several first responders becoming a place of refuge.

This narrative is often misrepresented as a book of poems, which has led to a handful of negative reviews. While it certainly reads like a book of poetry, it is important to know that this piece of literature has technically been written as a play, which has since been performed by the students who wrote it. It has beautiful prose, which led me to finish the book in one sitting, leaving me with several things to ponder about after completing it. I highly recommend this specific title if you would like something that isn’t very long, that still has a lot of substance to it.

The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede

“The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland,” highlights the small town of Gander in Newfoundland that ended up taking in thousands of aircraft passengers that were forced to land after the terrorist attacks took place. It chronicles the complete kindness shown by everyone who lived in Gander, that ended up impacting the lives of both passengers and citizens alike.

I suggest checking out this book if you are interested in a more positive perspective about the terrorist attacks, since this story is specifically about the one town and how they opened their doors to so many people who were complete strangers, not necessarily the larger events of the day. It also describes some days after the 11th, showing that Gander continued to be the definition of generosity.

Fiction Picks

Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes 

“Towers Falling,” by Jewell Parker Rhodes is a story that centers around Deja who is set off on a journey of self discovery, which has led her to ask several questions about who she is as an individual. However, when she gets to the topic about the twin towers, her father is oddly closed off. Trying to figure out how the World Trade Center attack connects to her own life, Deja is now met with more questions than ever before about her personal history as an American.

Though I read this book a couple of years ago now, it still remains one that I think about often. I love how much care Rhodes pours into this story, since this is such a difficult subject to discuss, especially in a way for younger readers. I believe that Rhodes is an incredible storyteller, and this book proves her backlist is just as phenomenal as her current titles.

Nine, Ten by Nora Raleigh Baskin

“Nine, Ten,” by Nora Raleigh Baksin follows four different kids who live completely different lives across the country. However they all have one thing in common: they all someway or another watched the twin towers come crashing down. Each of the children is dealing with it in their own way, and you get to have a perfect viewpoint of each of their reactions.

Though this book is barely over 200 pages it does a phenomenal job depicting what it was like for the younger generation during 9/11. I love how each character is unique, whether it was their ethnicity or their belief system. I also appreciated how the author made it feel like you were really in the shoes of each specific child. The writing definitely made the story memorable.

All We Have Left by Wendy Mills 

“All We Have Left,” by Wendy Mills takes the two perspectives of two young women from different time periods. Jesse lives in the present day, but is stuck in the past due to the fact that her brother died on 9/11, the reasons behind his death a mystery to his family. Alia, whose point of view takes place in 2001 is proud to be Muslim, though being a teenager is difficult. After being grounded, she is forced to spend her day at her father’s work at the World Trade Center on Sept 11. One moment in time connects both of their forever, showing the power love and hate is stronger than either of them ever imagined.

This is probably my favorite fiction book about 9/11 since the two different angles the reader is given are so particular and special. I think that Wendy Mills does an incredible job of weaving the two stories together to make one fantastic book. This novel is full of moving moments that I still have glued in my brain, that will honestly probably stay there forever. I highly recommend this if you are looking for a deep emotional driven story.