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Ground Zero
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Ground Zero
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The instant #1 New York Times bestseller.In time for the twentieth anniversary of 9/11, master storyteller Alan Gratz (Refugee) delivers a pulse-pounding and unforgettable take on history and hope,...
The instant #1 New York Times bestseller.In time for the twentieth anniversary of 9/11, master storyteller Alan Gratz (Refugee) delivers a pulse-pounding and unforgettable take on history and hope,...
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  • The instant #1 New York Times bestseller.

    In time for the twentieth anniversary of 9/11, master storyteller Alan Gratz (Refugee) delivers a pulse-pounding and unforgettable take on history and hope, revenge and fear — and the stunning links between the past and present.

    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.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    January 1, 2021
    Parallel storylines take readers through the lives of two young people on Sept. 11 in 2001 and 2019. In the contemporary timeline, Reshmina is an Afghan girl living in foothills near the Pakistan border that are a battleground between the Taliban and U.S. armed forces. She is keen to improve her English while her twin brother, Pasoon, is inspired by the Taliban and wants to avenge their older sister, killed by an American bomb on her wedding day. Reshmina helps a wounded American soldier, making her village a Taliban target. In 2001, Brandon Chavez is spending the day with his father, who works at the World Trade Center's Windows on the World restaurant. Brandon is heading to the underground mall when a plane piloted by al-Qaida hits the tower, and his father is among those killed. The two storylines develop in parallel through alternating chapters. Gratz's deeply moving writing paints vivid images of the loss and fear of those who lived through the trauma of 9/11. However, this nuance doesn't extend to the Afghan characters; Reshmina and Pasoon feel one-dimensional. Descriptions of the Taliban's Afghan victims and Reshmina's gentle father notwithstanding, references to all young men eventually joining the Taliban and Pasoon's zeal for their cause counteract this messaging. Explanations for the U.S. military invasion of Afghanistan in the author's note and in characters' conversations too simplistically present the U.S. presence. Falters in its oversimplified portrayal of a complicated region and people. (author's note) (Fiction. 9-12)

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 4, 2021
    Publishing in time for the 20th anniversary of 9/11, this tautly paced novel by Gratz (Resist) explores the events of that tragedy and the subsequent American response through two parallel story lines. In September of 2019, devoted student Reshmina, 11, lives in a mountainside village in Afghanistan, dreaming of a future other than marriage. When she rescues an American soldier who is wounded by the Taliban, her village becomes a Taliban target. On Sept. 11, 2001, after being suspended for standing up to a bully with his fists, nine-year-old Brooklynite Brandon Chavez accompanies his kitchen manager father to the Windows of the World restaurant in the World Trade Center’s North Tower. In alternating perspectives, the narrative tackles grim realities of both scenarios, including ongoing violence in Afghanistan and bodies falling from the tower in New York, balancing the horrors with moments of grace and hope. While the U.S. story conveys immediacy and depth, the Afghan story lacks nuance, relying on simplistic explanations when describing the history of the Taliban and what draws Reshmina’s twin brother to its ranks. Similarly, dialogue proves didactic as it works to convey the politics, history, and moral calculus surrounding the events. Ages 9–12.

  • Booklist

    January 1, 2021
    Grades 4-7 *Starred Review* With his signature accessibility and insight, Gratz tackles events on both U.S. soil and abroad in Ground Zero. Juxtaposed narratives alternate between September 11, 2001, New York City and September 11, 2019, Afghanistan, linked by destruction, death--and hope. Brandon, out of school due to a fight, finds himself in the North Tower when it's hit. Separated from his dad, he alternately helps and is helped by those trying to escape the terror they don't yet understand. Miles and years away, Reshmina's life has been disrupted by the terror of warring forces for as long as she can remember, but on this day she brings it closer than ever by aiding a wounded American soldier. Subtexts and well-developed secondary characters give readers fuller perspectives surrounding the political, religious, and sociological factors that contribute to the horrors Brandon and Reshmina are living through. The pace is quick (don't blink or you'll miss something!), its emotions deeply authentic, and the highly visual settings resonate with accuracy. With a moving author's note, pertinent back matter, and a surprise twist that brings the book full circle, Gratz delivers another winning read. Ground Zero will appeal to middle-grade readers, who were born after the events of 9/11, and to those adults who lived through it and will never forget.

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from February 1, 2021

    Gr 4-7-Gratz (Refugee) writes a searing indictment of America's involvement in Afghanistan, told through two gripping parallel narratives. On September 11, 2001, nine-year-old Brandon accompanies his father to his job at New York City's World Trade Center. The two are separated during the ensuing terrorist attack, and, with help from others, Brandon survives. Eighteen years later, 11-year-old Reshmina, living in a remote Afghan village, sees her country and family devastated by the Taliban and the U.S. military, despite both armies' claims of protection. Brandon's and Reshmina's lives intertwine in a fateful encounter that challenges America's policies as well as its presence in Afghanistan, and puts a human face on the resulting suffering. Vivid details immerse readers in the two disparate settings. The plot starts at a heart-pounding pace and never relents: Brandon and Reshmina's lives are in danger at every turn. In a superbly structured plot, the two protagonists experience similar perils, and both respond with determination and hope. Gratz provides readers with a brief history of Afghanistan and its occupation by foreign powers. Speaking through Reshmina, he concludes "the United States had surely destroyed Afghanistan." The book includes extensive back matter, making it an excellent choice for classroom discussion. VERDICT A contemporary history lesson with the uplifting message that humanity's survival depends on us working for, not against, one another. A must-have.-Marybeth Kozikowski, Sachem P.L., Holbrook, NY

    Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • The Horn Book

    March 1, 2021
    Nine-year-old Brandon Chavez has been suspended from school for fighting, so he goes to work with his father at Windows on the World, a restaurant on the 107th floor in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. It is September 11, 2001. Brandon gets separated from his father before the disaster begins, then has to rely on, and help, strangers to survive. Fast-forward to September 2019, where Reshmina is an eleven-year-old Afghan girl living in a village miles from the capital of Kabul. Her older sister had been killed on her wedding day by an American drone, and her family struggles with the fear and poverty caused by a lifetime of war. Reshmina tries to talk her twin brother out of joining the Taliban for work and revenge, while reluctantly giving shelter to a wounded American soldier. Gratz (Refugee, rev. 11/17; Grenade, rev. 11/18) moves back and forth between the two narratives in short, nail-biting chapters that create a vivid picture of each setting and make readers feel invested in each character's relationships and choices, and in the high-stakes global forces that affect the intimate details of their lives. Big and small questions and lessons offered within the story worlds make this a great discussion starter (though some readers may benefit from additional context about Islam). A detailed author's note explains how Gratz used historical fact to inform his thought-provoking novel. Autumn Allen

    (Copyright 2021 by The Horn Book, Incorporated, Boston. All rights reserved.)

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