28 Nov / Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes [in School Library Journal]
The Avalon Family Residence might sound nice, but it’s not: “peeling paint, cockroaches…our tiny room.” Dèja, her parents, and her two younger siblings are homeless, currently staying in a Brooklyn shelter. Her father can’t work, and her exhausted mother is menially employed.
As Dèja starts fifth grade in a new school, she shields herself with bluster and anger against being judged, but she’s surprised to find a welcoming teacher and even two wonderful friends. A series of class assignments about home, social circles, and relationships eventually lead Dèja to discover the tragic events of 9/11 for the very first time – and how the event has been directly affecting her own family ever since.
Rhodes melds recent history with a timeless, resonating narrative celebrating family and friends; as immediate as 9/11 still feels for many, a whole generation has come of age in the ensuing 15 years.
The author narrates, but unfortunately she is distractingly shrill and unnecessarily overwrought, especially when voicing Dèja. As relevant as Rhodes’s story is, readers are advised to turn to the page for the more compelling experience.
Readers: Middle Grade