Towers Falling
by Rhodes, Jewell Parker

From award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes comes a powerful novel set fifteen years after the 9/11 attacks in a classroom of students who cannot remember the event but live through the aftermath of its cultural shift.

When her fifth-grade teacher hints that a series of lessons about home and community will culminate with one big answer about two tall towers once visible outside their classroom window, Dčja can't help but feel confused. She sets off on a journey of discovery, with new friends Ben and Sabeen by her side. But just as she gets closer to answering big questions about who she is, what America means, and how communities can grow (and heal), she uncovers new questions, too. Like, why does Pop get so angry when she brings up anything about the towers?

Award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes tells a powerful story about young people who weren't alive to witness this defining moment in history, but begin to realize how much it colors their every day.

Jewell Parker Rhodes is the author of Ninth Ward, a Coretta Scott King honor book, Sugar, winner of the Jane Adams Peace Association book award, Bayou Magic, and Towers Falling. She has also written many award-winning books for adults.

Sure, moving from Brooklyn and into the Avalon Family Residence doesn't sound that bad, but for Dčja and her family, it's just a fancy way of saying that they live in a homeless shelter. The one good thing to come out of the move is that Dčja finally gets to go to a good school. Used to being a tough girl, she is quick to bristle, but two patient students-Sabeen, a Muslim, and Ben, a displaced country boy-soon win her over. Fifteen years after the September 11 attacks, their school strives to teach about the tragedy by focusing on ideas of home, interconnectedness, and what it means to be an American. Dčja, who has never heard about 9/11, is filled with questions, especially after her father grows inexplicably angry over her lessons. Rhodes excels at shining a meaningful, if teacherly, light on tragedy-as she did for Hurricane Katrina in Ninth Ward (2010)-and instructors and librarians will appreciate her sensitive but candid approach to the September 11 attacks, as well as her diverse cast of characters. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Dčja Barnes doesn't want to stand out at the integrated Brooklyn Collective Elementary, and she wishes her family could move out of the Avalon Family Residence into a home; despite her fears, Dčja tackles new friendships, a new teacher, and the mystery behind her father's deep sadness.On the first day of fifth grade, the African-American girl makes fun of Mexican-American Ben's cowboy boots and Muslim Sabeen's cheery attitude, but despite her defensiveness, Dčja grows to appreciate her new friends' backgrounds. The trio draws from each of their experiences to help them navigate Miss Garcia's 9/11 curriculum. Dčja hates thinking about the past-her old best friend, her old neighborhood, her old home-yet the more she learns, the more she understands that this event affected her and every American. Rhodes pulls off the difficult feat of making a well-known story new. Sept. 11 is anchored in the minds of many readers, but for a new generation, it is history they learn in school, like Dčja. Through her eyes the event becomes fresh, heavy, and palpable, but at times 9/11 appears to be a competing rather than complementary protagonist. The cadences of the fifth-graders flow almost like slam poetry, emphasizing their feelings and senses over drawn-out descriptions or narration.This tender retelling of tragedy is a solid vessel to help young readers understand the gravity of 9/11 and how it touches all Americans, no matter where we come from. (author's note) (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2016 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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