Monday, August 9, 2021

Ground Zero: A Novel of 9/11 by Alan Gratz


Image of a boy standing in front of the wreckage of the Twin Towers
Why you want to read this book…

Besides it being the twenty-year anniversary of this horrific event, I was drawn to this story because I thought Alan Gratz would present the story carefully but with lots of tension. I was right. 

This story shares the events of 9/11 through the eyes of a fictional young boy, Brandon, who experiences the collapse of the towers and fights to survive. An interesting surprise was that it also told the story of Reshmina, a young girl in Afghanistan, who also experienced a life-changing event and had to struggle for survival. The similarities and differences between these two perspectives gave me a lot to think about.

 Even twenty years later, twin towers tragedy is heart-breaking, making for an intense read. Luckily, the details are descriptive without being overly vivid or scary. Reshmina’s story is also emotionally difficult and I found it very interesting to learn about her life and think about the issues she faced. Along with political issues, this story makes you think about basic human values and how people are connected. Author notes at the end of the story provide extra information as well as discussing some of the decisions the author made in writing the novel. A very interesting and emotional read.


Here’s the summary from the publisher…


It's September 11, 2001. Brandon, a nine-year-old boy, goes to work for the day with his dad… at the World Trade Center in New York City. When two planes hit the towers, Brandon and his father are trapped inside a fiery nightmare as terror and confusion whirl around them. Can they escape — and what will the world be like when they do?

In present-day Afghanistan, Reshmina is an eleven-year-old girl who is used to growing up in the shadow of war, but she has dreams of peace and unity. When she ends up harboring a wounded young American soldier, she and her entire family are put in mortal danger. But Reshmina also learns something surprising about the roots of this endless war.

With his trademark skill, Alan Gratz delivers an action-packed and insightful story of two kids whose lives connect in unexpected ways, and reminds us how the past and present are always more linked than we think.

Ground Zero by Alan Gratz was published by Scholastic Press in 2021. I read an e-version from my local public library.

Resources for Teachers: 

Here's a 25-min book talk with Alan Gratz, where he explains why he wrote the book and some of the research and decisions he made. Lots to discuss here! 



  1. I love Gratz's novels and I especially appreciated your sharing the interview with him about GROUND ZERO. Almost got a copy, but have reviewed other novels in the past. But will definitely read a copy because his novel is unique showing different perspectives and tying the past to present day. Sounds like a powerful story. Thanks for sharing!

  2. This sounds like a great story about such an important time in our history. The two point of views make it sound even more interesting.

  3. I also enjoy Gratz's novels but haven't had time for this one. I'll be making room for it with the upcoming 20th anniversary. Happy MMGM and thanks for participating.

  4. Wow! This sounds like a very intense but interesting book. I hadn't thought about it being 20 years this year. I'm intrigued by how he ties it to the present.
    Thanks for featuring this!

  5. I've seen this book a few places. Not sure if I'm ready to read it yet. There have been a few books that tie 9/11 to the present. It would be interesting to see how he does it. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I've seen a lot of books about 9/11, but they usually seem to explore the aftermath rather than the moments during the attack itself—and certainly not how any of it felt in Afghanistan. So this book seems really unique! Thanks for the thoughtful review of it!

  7. Wow. This sounds pretty amazing.I haven't read anything by this author. I think I will have to change that. Thanks for telling me about this.


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