I remember where I was on September 11, 2001 and how the shock and horror of the event rocked my life, even though I was hundreds of miles away. When I read this book, I appreciated how the author tried to show the impact of this event on everyday life even for those not immediately connected with it.
Ask anyone: September 11, 2001, was serene and lovely, a perfect day—until a plane struck the World Trade Center.
But right now it is a few days earlier, and four kids in different parts of the country are going about their lives. Sergio, who lives in Brooklyn, is struggling to come to terms with the absentee father he hates and the grandmother he loves. Will’s father is gone, too, killed in a car accident that has left the family reeling. Naheed has never before felt uncomfortable about being Muslim, but at her new school she’s getting funny looks because of the head scarf she wears. Aimee is starting a new school in a new city and missing her mom, who has to fly to New York on business.
These four don’t know one another, but their lives are about to intersect in ways they never could have imagined. Award-winning author Nora Raleigh Baskin weaves together their stories into an unforgettable novel about that seemingly perfect September day—the day our world changed forever.
Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story was written by Nora Raleigh Baskin and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers in 2016.
My thoughts as a reader and teacher:
At first, I didn’t know what to expect from this story. The separateness of the main characters’ stories surprised me, but once I settled into the rhythm of the book, I was interested in each one of them and what might happen. I really loved how these characters were so different, yet each one was affected by the events in their own way.
I liked the way this story didn’t focus on the raw and gritty details of 9/11, but instead focused on the impact to these very different character’s lives. Because of the many different issues and challenges for these characters (e.g., bullying, loss, making friends, individual differences), this would make a good book for a discussion group or read aloud.
My thoughts as a writer:
I was really interested in the way this book was structured from four different perspectives, and I especially liked the small connections between the four main characters at the beginning of the story—and then the way it circled around, connecting them again. It’s a good mentor text for anyone writing a story told from several different points of view.
“Everyone will mention the same thing, and if they don’t, when you ask them, they will remember. It was a perfect day.”
“It’s not about what makes you feel better or worse. If it’s the right thing to do and you know it, you should do it.”
“It seemed like a silly speck of sand in a sandbox that was getting bigger and bigger with every frightful story that flew from parent to kid, from brother to sister, from friend to friend, from one kid to another.”
Other interesting info:
Nora Raleigh Baskin is the author of several middle grade novels, including Ruby on the Outside, The Truth About My Bat Mitzvah, Anything But Typical, and The Summer Before Boys.
This book has a curriculum guide with activities and discussion questions.