Ground Zero by Alan Gratz

Ground Zero by Alan Gratz
September 11, 2021 Alexandra Adlawan

In time for the 20thanniversary of 9/11, here is my review on Alan Gratz’s newest book featuring the events of 9/11 and how it still impacts us today.

7th Grade and Up

September 11, 2001, New York City: Brandon is visiting his dad at work, on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center. Out of nowhere, an airplane slams into the tower, creating a fiery nightmare of terror and confusion. And Brandon is in the middle of it all. Can he survive and escape?

September 11, 2019, Afghanistan: Reshmina has grown up in the shadow of war, but she dreams of peace and progress. When a battle erupts in her village, Reshmina stumbles upon a wounded American soldier named Taz. Should she help Taz and put herself and her family in mortal danger?

Two kids. One devastating day. Nothing will ever be the same.

 

This is a heart wrenching, nerve-racking and harrowing story. I haven’t read many books about 9/11 and so far this is the only one I’ve found that takes place inside one of the Twin Towers.

 

It was kind of hard to read this book with it going back and forth between Brandon’s story and Reshmina’s story. Once you’d settled into one person’s story, it would end on a cliffhanger and switch to the other person’s story. I had to remember to breath because I felt like I had been holding my breath the whole time.

 

Reading Brandon’s part of the book was like watching an action movie that you already know the ending to. You already know the outcome of the planes hitting the World Trade Center, so people being told to stay put and wait for the firemen was exasperating. STAY PUT?! If a building is on fire, you get the *bleep* out.

 

In the beginning, the people in the building have no idea what’s going on or how bad the situation is. At first they think it was a gas explosion. When they find out that a plane hit the North Tower, they think it was an accident. But after another plane flies into the South Tower, they realize that someone was doing it on purpose. I won’t go into detail of what Brandon went through inside the North Tower, only that it was messed up.

 

I became more engrossed in Reshmina’s side of the story. Before reading this book I knew very little about life in Afghanistan. After reading this book I have concluded that it is awful.

 

These poor people are living in a barren wasteland in the middle of a warzone, gun fire and explosions everywhere. Throughout Afghanistan’s history, they have been invaded by other countries and are in an endless state of war, violence and senseless killing. I get why they don’t take kindly to outsiders and why the Americans are seen as the bad guys. Growing up knowing nothing but war is no life for a child, that is no life for anyone.

 

Reshmina makes so many good points throughout her story. Things like:

All that shooting, all that fighting, and for what? Neither side won anything, and neither side lost anything – except lives.”

But you know why we’re always behind? Because while everybody else in the world is making things, we’re fighting wars. We never get to move ahead. We’re stuck in the past.”

No wonder the Taliban wants to keep women under lock and key. They know that given the chance, women would rise up and find a way to stop them.

 

I’m going to stop here before this review turns into a history lesson. Speaking of history lessons, the author includes a lot of facts and features in the Author’s Note, along with helpful maps of the Twin Towers and of Afghanistan. If you’ve read as many stories as I have, you’ll probably predict how both stories come together in the end.

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