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Ground Zero

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In time for the 20th anniversary of 9/11, bestselling author Alan Gratz delivers a breathtaking, multifaceted, and resonant look at this singular event in US history -- and how it still impacts us today. It's September 11, 2001. Brandon, a 9-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, In time for the 20th anniversary of 9/11, bestselling author Alan Gratz delivers a breathtaking, multifaceted, and resonant look at this singular event in US history -- and how it still impacts us today. It's September 11, 2001. Brandon, a 9-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 swirl around them. Can they escape -- and what will the world be like when they do? In present-day Afghanistan, Reshmina is an 11-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 and insight, Alan Gratz delivers an action-packed and powerful 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.


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In time for the 20th anniversary of 9/11, bestselling author Alan Gratz delivers a breathtaking, multifaceted, and resonant look at this singular event in US history -- and how it still impacts us today. It's September 11, 2001. Brandon, a 9-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, In time for the 20th anniversary of 9/11, bestselling author Alan Gratz delivers a breathtaking, multifaceted, and resonant look at this singular event in US history -- and how it still impacts us today. It's September 11, 2001. Brandon, a 9-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 swirl around them. Can they escape -- and what will the world be like when they do? In present-day Afghanistan, Reshmina is an 11-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 and insight, Alan Gratz delivers an action-packed and powerful 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.

30 review for Ground Zero

  1. 4 out of 5

    human

    Thank you to Edelweiss and Scholastic Press for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. When I heard that Alan Gratz was writing a new book, this time about the events of 9/11, suffice it to say, I was excited. And this novel did not disappoint. Ground Zero is told in dual, third-person perspective, and weaves two stories together in an intricate and resounding way. Brandon's dad works at the World Trade Center in New York City, and on the morning of September 11, 2001, Brandon's li Thank you to Edelweiss and Scholastic Press for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. When I heard that Alan Gratz was writing a new book, this time about the events of 9/11, suffice it to say, I was excited. And this novel did not disappoint. Ground Zero is told in dual, third-person perspective, and weaves two stories together in an intricate and resounding way. Brandon's dad works at the World Trade Center in New York City, and on the morning of September 11, 2001, Brandon's life is changed forever, as he witnesses an event that will change the course of history itself. Over the course of his parts in the book, he and the other survivors must find a way to work together and make it out of this nightmare alive. Reshmina lives in present-day Afghanistan, in village torn apart by war, but still holding fast to her peaceful ideals. Her life is turned upside-down when she decides to help an American soldier and learns that her brother wishes to join the Taliban. It's up to her to help make amends of the mess she's made, and learn a thing or two along the way about this war. The book is written in an interesting way that captivates you from the very beginning and doesn't let go. The characters are likeable but also believable, and you'll find yourself rooting for them in their individual positions as the story goes on. That being said, the character growth isn't very present, but made up for by all the action. This book is one that touches on important and relevant topics. I can definitely see this book as something that can be enjoyed by younger readers and more mature ones alike, and it definitely has the capacity to spark important conversations as well. Overall, I would recommend this to anyone who's trying to get more into historical fiction, or is looking for two compelling stories that are slowly tied together. ~~~~~~~~~ will read literally anything by this author.

  2. 5 out of 5

    TheNextGenLibrarian

    Alan Gratz’s books always hit where it hurts, in the best possible way, but Ground Zero might just be the one to have the most impact for me. I remember 9/11 like it was yesterday so the fact we are coming up on the 20th anniversary is mind blowing. This MG book will be a hit with my students & generate a bunch of conversations between them & their parents. 🇺🇸🇦🇫 Brandon has to go to his father’s job who is a chef at the World Trade Center because he was suspended for the day. It’s September 11, 2 Alan Gratz’s books always hit where it hurts, in the best possible way, but Ground Zero might just be the one to have the most impact for me. I remember 9/11 like it was yesterday so the fact we are coming up on the 20th anniversary is mind blowing. This MG book will be a hit with my students & generate a bunch of conversations between them & their parents. 🇺🇸🇦🇫 Brandon has to go to his father’s job who is a chef at the World Trade Center because he was suspended for the day. It’s September 11, 2001. Reshmina dreams of life beyond war in Afghanistan where her brother is joining the Taliban and her home is bombed after she protects an American soldier on September 11, 2019. 🇺🇸🇦🇫 Two kids. 18 years difference. Countries apart. The world will never be the same. 🇺🇸🇦🇫 You will need the tissues for this one, particularly those who are old enough to remember where they were on 9/11/01. Make sure and read the Author’s Note at the back. I loved hearing Gratz speak at @librarypalooza a few months ago. I’ll not soon forget this amazing novel Thank you Edelweiss for an ARC of this. BUY THIS BOOK in February 2021.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jypsy

    Thank you Rockstar Book Tours and Scholastic for a complimentary copy. I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own. Ground Zero By: Alan Gratz REVIEW ☆☆☆☆☆ It's odd that a generation now exists with no prior knowledge of the Twin Towers terrorist attacks. That is why books such as GROUND ZERO by Alan Gratz are so important. We have a responsibility to pass on the history of this tragedy that subsequently shaped the landscape of our world for this and future generations. Alt Thank you Rockstar Book Tours and Scholastic for a complimentary copy. I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own. Ground Zero By: Alan Gratz REVIEW ☆☆☆☆☆ It's odd that a generation now exists with no prior knowledge of the Twin Towers terrorist attacks. That is why books such as GROUND ZERO by Alan Gratz are so important. We have a responsibility to pass on the history of this tragedy that subsequently shaped the landscape of our world for this and future generations. Although fiction, there is a good bit of informative content in this story. I gained a new perspective on the hellish conditions and horrors inside the towers prior to collapse. I also have a new found respect for those who are trapped under Taliban rule. The story gave me pause to think about circumstances in different, eye opening ways and drew awareness to my ignorance of many aspects.  Young adult readers may be the target audience, but this is a book for everyone. Through a deeply emotional and unputdownable, dramatic narrative, Alan Gratz gives us humanity and hope that live on in sacrifice and love for one another. Do not miss this book. GROUND ZERO is, simply put, amazing.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    Wow! Alan Gratz did it again. This book captivated me and I read it in a day. However, Gratz does not sugar coat the events of that day or its lasting effects for young readers. As someone who will never forget the sequence of that day, reading this pulled me back 20 years and definitely stirred up a lot of emotion.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus This book delivers the stories of both Brandon, a nine year old in New York City during the 9/11 attacks, and 11-year-old Reshmina, who lives in Afghanistan in the present day. Brandon has to go to work with his father, who works in Windows on the World in the World Trade Center because he got in trouble at school. He likes being with his father, but has made plans to run an errand in the underground mall when he gets a chance. This happens when there is a kitchen E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus This book delivers the stories of both Brandon, a nine year old in New York City during the 9/11 attacks, and 11-year-old Reshmina, who lives in Afghanistan in the present day. Brandon has to go to work with his father, who works in Windows on the World in the World Trade Center because he got in trouble at school. He likes being with his father, but has made plans to run an errand in the underground mall when he gets a chance. This happens when there is a kitchen fire. Brandon sneaks off, but the elevator in which he is riding stops. The people in the elevator all work together to get out onto one of the floors, but when they do, they find that a plane has flown into the building. Brandon is frantic about his father and tries to go up to the restaurant, only to find he can't get there. With the help of Richard, a man whom he and his father had helped earlier that morning, Brandon tries to get out of the World Trade Center, which is no easy feat. In Reshmina's story, her family has suffered greatly over the years that the Taliban has been struggling for dominance and the US troops are in place trying to help. Many members of her family have been killed, including an older sister, at whose wedding celebratory gun shots were mistaken for attacks and resulted in the wedding party being attacked. Reshmina would like to be a teacher and move to Kabul, so is learning English, but her mother just wants her to get married young. Her grandmother, however, remembers Afghanistan before Taliban control, when women could hold jobs and even wear mini skirts, and consuls Reshmina to try to understand her mother's point of view. When Reshmina finds a wounded US soldier, she has him follow her home to get help, but this puts her family and entire village in grave danger. Both children have to fight against the odds to survive, and in the end, are more connected than we could have imagined. Strengths: This was absolutely harrowing. The details of what Brandon and Richard had to do just to get out of the building were vivid without being too graphic, and made me feel like I was right there. The same is true of Reshmina's struggles to try to keep her family safe when her twin brother is determined to join the Taliban and her village is under attack. There is a lot of information about what life was like for Reshmina, which was quite interesting, and the politics of the situation were well balanced. Notes at the back are helpful for young readers who won't have as much familiarity with the topic. This is probably the best book about 9/11 that I've read. Weaknesses: It seemed unlikely to me that Brandon would have gotten his father on the phone in the restaurant, or that Richard would have adopted him, but both are hopeful occurrences that ease the really dire air this book has. What I really think: I know that this author's Refugee is very popular, given that it covers three very different stories of immigration, and the two characters did meet up in a very clever way, but I rather wished this were two separate books. Both stories are very intense, and given the length of the book, it could easily have been two shorter stories. Since it is not, I will definitely purchase it anyway.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Patti Sabik

    As with all Gratz books, students will be submitting holds because no matter how many copies I purchase for my library I won’t have enough. This book made me tear up even though I knew the ending as I cracked the spine. It’s still brilliant!

  7. 4 out of 5

    ❀ Alex ❀ (The Scribe Owl)

    See this review and more at my blog, The Scribe Owl! Thank you to Rockstar Book Tours for an ARC in exchange for an honest review! 4.5/5 stars Alan Gratz has done it again! The events of 9/11 and all their repercussions were hauntingly portrayed in this stunner of a book. 9/11 was such a huge part of modern American history and seeing it happen like this felt both surreal and all too realistic. Reading the chapters that took place on that date felt a little like something one might read in a sci-fi See this review and more at my blog, The Scribe Owl! Thank you to Rockstar Book Tours for an ARC in exchange for an honest review! 4.5/5 stars Alan Gratz has done it again! The events of 9/11 and all their repercussions were hauntingly portrayed in this stunner of a book. 9/11 was such a huge part of modern American history and seeing it happen like this felt both surreal and all too realistic. Reading the chapters that took place on that date felt a little like something one might read in a sci-fi book. They felt like nothing that could actually happen in our society. But at the same time, it was all too real. I myself was not anywhere near the Twin Towers when they fell, but 9/11 is infamous enough that I have heard much about it. I know enough that I knew what was coming next and cringing to anticipate it. When reading about such a time in history, especially one so modern, it's hard to believe it's real. But 9/11 is very real, and our country bears the scars to prove it. This book touched me in a way that only historically-based books can. A gruesome and eerie story is one thing, but knowing it actually happened is completely something else and can totally change the reading experience. On September 11, 2001, Brandon, a 9-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 swirl around them. Can they escape -- and what will the world be like when they do? In present-day Afghanistan, Reshmina is an 11-year-old girl who is used to growing up in the shadow of war, but through it all 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. I was prepared to be wowed by the 9/11 part, but nothing could have prepared me for the part that takes place in Afghanistan. When thinking about the Afghanistan War, I always do so from the perspective of an American. We're stopping terrorists. We're trying to give the innocents that live there a better life. And that's true. But there is so much more that is happening that we chose not to notice. All the war is terrible for the Afghans, and the Americans are seen as that bad guys. It took me a second to wrap my head around that, but I can definitely see the perspective now. As always, Alan Gratz hit us with another amazing novel. His books hit hard, and, while reading about terrorism is never fun, I appreciated and enjoyed the experience. This story is one that needs to be told, and I'm glad he did it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Erinboyle

    Wow. What a read! This book was real - I had both tears and chills. Gratz has done an amazing job of capturing the heart of 9/11 and making it appropriate for this particular age group. The author’s note tied everything up well - the history and his connection to this horrific day. Way to go!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Plaza

    Masterfully tying 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan! Gratz puts the reader right beside it all! A stellar book to put in the hands of a young reader.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Shannon { Library Girl Reading }

    WOW! I'd give it 10 star if I could! Simply Utterly Amazing!! I cried so many times, I smiled and I cheered on Reshmina and Brandon. I love all his novels but I never thought one would top Refugee till today! WOW! I'd give it 10 star if I could! Simply Utterly Amazing!! I cried so many times, I smiled and I cheered on Reshmina and Brandon. I love all his novels but I never thought one would top Refugee till today!

  11. 5 out of 5

    bookish tanna

    First off, thank you so much to the author/publisher for offering me a free ARC! Many thanks to Rockstar Book Tours as well. Now, let's begin with the review ~ Ground Zero by Alan Gratz is his latest book tackling the events of 9/11 and how two children, not so far apart from indifference, persevere and tell their stories. I used to be a huge, HUGE, fan of the I Survived series. I took this book in and had very high expectations because there were many connections in educating children about hist First off, thank you so much to the author/publisher for offering me a free ARC! Many thanks to Rockstar Book Tours as well. Now, let's begin with the review ~ Ground Zero by Alan Gratz is his latest book tackling the events of 9/11 and how two children, not so far apart from indifference, persevere and tell their stories. I used to be a huge, HUGE, fan of the I Survived series. I took this book in and had very high expectations because there were many connections in educating children about history. Which I'm happy to say, met them very well. Gratz makes the little moments engaging enough for the reader to continue. Even at the sections when I felt like the cliff-hangers weren't as good, he managed to pull me back in. I think this book will forever remain a timeless masterpiece for younger generations to look back on. I highly recommend this one.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Reagan

    another one of Alan Gratz's amazing books another one of Alan Gratz's amazing books

  13. 4 out of 5

    Blakely Smith

    I was a bit worried going into this one. I was worried it was going to be an "us against them" approach. But, I should've known better and trusted Gratz. He did an exceptional job at showing us that it isn't "us against them". He showed us the whole picture and the true complexity of the world and wars which I'm sure was hard to do with such a still recent event. This may be just be my new Gratz favorite. I was a bit worried going into this one. I was worried it was going to be an "us against them" approach. But, I should've known better and trusted Gratz. He did an exceptional job at showing us that it isn't "us against them". He showed us the whole picture and the true complexity of the world and wars which I'm sure was hard to do with such a still recent event. This may be just be my new Gratz favorite.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Many thanks to EdelweissPlus and the publisher for providing me with a DRC of this title for review. All opinions are my own. Alan Gratz is always a pretty solid choice for my building: my students DEVOUR all of his books and most of my staff enjoy reading them as well. With that in mind, I had fairly high hopes for this book and I was not disappointed. What I did not anticipate was how much more anxiety I would have reading this book since it detailed an event in history that I can actually reme Many thanks to EdelweissPlus and the publisher for providing me with a DRC of this title for review. All opinions are my own. Alan Gratz is always a pretty solid choice for my building: my students DEVOUR all of his books and most of my staff enjoy reading them as well. With that in mind, I had fairly high hopes for this book and I was not disappointed. What I did not anticipate was how much more anxiety I would have reading this book since it detailed an event in history that I can actually remember. September 11th was a defining moment for my generation, as well as the aftermath of what happened overseas. We are still living with the decisions we made twenty years ago, even when the people who are being directly impacted (the soldiers traveling overseas and the children growing up here and there) don't have any intimate knowledge of the events that triggered what we currently know as the "War on Terror." Reading the description of the events in the towers as Brandon (the fictional character) tried to get to his family and then get out to safety was HARD since I knew how accurate Gratz was in his writing. Highly recommend. All of his books are great. This one was exceptional.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    It is interesting as a teacher, to sit down with groups of elementary aged students and attempt to teach them about this day in our country's history. A day that I was here to witness, but one that happened before they were born. What do we tell them? How much detail do we share? What is it they should know? This is the best middle grade book written about September 11th, 2001 that I have read. It was not a quick read for me. I needed time to stop and process as I went along. Ground Zero tells t It is interesting as a teacher, to sit down with groups of elementary aged students and attempt to teach them about this day in our country's history. A day that I was here to witness, but one that happened before they were born. What do we tell them? How much detail do we share? What is it they should know? This is the best middle grade book written about September 11th, 2001 that I have read. It was not a quick read for me. I needed time to stop and process as I went along. Ground Zero tells two stories. Brandon is visiting his dad at work on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center. His story is about surviving that day. Reshmina's story takes place 18 years later in Afghanistan. Her entire life has been lived in the shadow of war. For me, this dual point of view worked well in providing a human face to both of these sides to the story. I found the book as a whole to be honest without going too much into detail. When students ask for books about 9/11, this will be my go-to from now on. The only thing that could perhaps have made this book better for me would have been if Gratz (or his publisher) had found an #ownvoices author to collaborate with and give Reshmina her voice. Don't get me wrong, he wrote her story wonderfully, but told from an Afghan's true point of view would make this book much more powerful.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ava VC

    This book is a page-turner! I've started to notice that when there is more than one story in his books, they will somehow connect in the end. This book really showed how the characters felt through their tragic experience. Very good book! This book is a page-turner! I've started to notice that when there is more than one story in his books, they will somehow connect in the end. This book really showed how the characters felt through their tragic experience. Very good book!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kim Bahr

    Definitely a 4.5+!! Gratz has a gift for crafting intriguing stories. Lots to think about with this one....

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jolene Elison

    A 9 year old boy and his father on 911 at the world trade centers. Twins in Afghanistan in the crossfires of USA troops versus the Taliban are the same age. Both stories told alternatively giving a broader perspective to the reader of both sides of the issues. The courage of these young people is extraordinary! In this aspect fiction aligns with true life stories of young children and their courage! So glad this was written for a generation of children who weren’t alive to witness 911 themselves A 9 year old boy and his father on 911 at the world trade centers. Twins in Afghanistan in the crossfires of USA troops versus the Taliban are the same age. Both stories told alternatively giving a broader perspective to the reader of both sides of the issues. The courage of these young people is extraordinary! In this aspect fiction aligns with true life stories of young children and their courage! So glad this was written for a generation of children who weren’t alive to witness 911 themselves.

  19. 5 out of 5

    reading_in_lala_land

    I really enjoyed this. It was heartbreaking due to the subject manner but fast paced and appropriate for the intended age group.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Payeur

    I could not put this book down! This book brought back the memory of where I was on 9/11. I love how Gratz has written about a character living the day of 9/11 and at the same time living in Afghanistan post 9/11. Both stories are told beautifully!

  21. 4 out of 5

    melhara

    Can you believe it's already been (nearly) 20 years since 9/11? It didn't seem that long ago when I walked home after school to find my mom in a frenzy - her mother and aunt had left for New York the week before on a bus tour and shopping trip around New York City. When she heard the news that the Twin Towers were attacked, she desperately tried to get ahold of my grandma, great-aunt, and their tour guide/agency. Turns out, cell service wasn't working very well that day as everyone was trying to Can you believe it's already been (nearly) 20 years since 9/11? It didn't seem that long ago when I walked home after school to find my mom in a frenzy - her mother and aunt had left for New York the week before on a bus tour and shopping trip around New York City. When she heard the news that the Twin Towers were attacked, she desperately tried to get ahold of my grandma, great-aunt, and their tour guide/agency. Turns out, cell service wasn't working very well that day as everyone was trying to get ahold of loved ones. So we weren't able to do anything but follow the news, imagining the worst as we waited for the travel agency to get back to us with updates as to whether or not my grandma and her sister were scheduled to visit the Twin Towers that day or were in the area during the attack. Luckily, my grandmother and great-aunt were fine and had left NYC the night before and were on the road back. Many others weren't as lucky though, and this story was definitely an important one to be told and to remember the lives that were lost and the brave souls who sacrificed their lives helping others. Ground Zero follows 9-year-old Brandon, who got suspended from school and had to follow his dad to work on September 9th, 2001. When the first plane hit the North Tower, Brandon and his dad were separated as Brandon desperately tried to find his way back to his dad. When the second plane hit the South Tower, realization hit - they were under attack and had to evacuate asap. The book also follows Reshmina in present-day Afghanistan. Reshmina is an 11-year-old girl with the hopes of improving her English and becoming a translator. When she comes across an injured American soldier, she decides to help him but doing so is extremely dangerous and risks putting her entire village in danger. Gratz did a wonderful job weaving both narratives and making both stories captivating, emotional, and educational. I read Alan Gratz's book, Refugee for the first time last year and loved it. I knew right away I just had to read his other books. This book, along with Refugee, has officially placed Gratz on my list of favourite middle-grade authors. I cannot recommend this enough.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Ground Zero was certainly compelling. I read the first three chapters aloud to my 6th grade classes and then could not put it down. The images Gratz created were stunning. He must have done tons of research on survivors' experiences--which would have certainly been completely draining. I felt drained after finishing the book. I have spoken to several kids who finished it and they have all said, "it was good." Not one of them said, "it was really sad." I am just not sure it will resonate with chi Ground Zero was certainly compelling. I read the first three chapters aloud to my 6th grade classes and then could not put it down. The images Gratz created were stunning. He must have done tons of research on survivors' experiences--which would have certainly been completely draining. I felt drained after finishing the book. I have spoken to several kids who finished it and they have all said, "it was good." Not one of them said, "it was really sad." I am just not sure it will resonate with children who weren't even born when 9/11 happened. I think they will like this book for the survivor aspect of the story and the soldier aspect of the Afghanistan part of the story, but I am not sure they will understand the severity of the attack. Brandon's conversations with his father after the building had been hit were gut wrenching. I could not stop crying! And the descriptions of the kindness and patience of all the people trying to make it out of that building were so touching and haunting. I briefly considered reading the entire novel aloud to my students but realize now, I don't think I could have read it over and over. I appreciated and understand the point of Reshmina's part in the book. Her chapters did not resonate as much with me, unfortunately. However, I do think her story was more important than Brandon's story. Reshmina's story really showed the effects of diplomacy and war and greed and revenge. But I just can't buy that an 11-year-old Afghani girl would be able to have such a deep, frank and significant conversation with an American soldier who had just blown her home up. To me, it wasn't in the least bit realistic, although I understand Gratz needed Reshmina to communicate the human side of Afghanistan. It was especially poignant when the Afghan villagers had NO IDEA what happened in New York almost 20 years ago. Gratz has made it totally clear why Americans are not appreciated in the places they embed themselves. Kids will get that and that's why Reshmina, though unrealistic, was important to this story. Overall, Alan Gratz continued his stellar streak of books that kids will clamor to read and absorb. I cannot keep his books on the shelf and Ground Zero will join the rest on the hold list.

  23. 5 out of 5

    M.L. Little

    @kidlitexchange Partner: Ground Zero by Alan Gratz. Releases February 2, 2021. —————- I have a LOT of thoughts on what is like an advanced I Survived book. Let’s dive right in. First of all, Ground Zero tells two alternating stories: Brandon, a boy inside the World Trade Center on 9/11 (there actually were children present that day), and Reshmina, an Afghan girl in 2019. One chapter is Brandon’s, the next is Reshmina’s, and so on. I couldn’t handle the layout and read Brandon’s story first, then @kidlitexchange Partner: Ground Zero by Alan Gratz. Releases February 2, 2021. —————- I have a LOT of thoughts on what is like an advanced I Survived book. Let’s dive right in. First of all, Ground Zero tells two alternating stories: Brandon, a boy inside the World Trade Center on 9/11 (there actually were children present that day), and Reshmina, an Afghan girl in 2019. One chapter is Brandon’s, the next is Reshmina’s, and so on. I couldn’t handle the layout and read Brandon’s story first, then went back and read Reshmina’s. I don’t recommend doing that, because reading the book in proper order allows you to organically realize how the two stories overlap. But I just couldn’t do it. First, Brandon’s story. I was five on 9/11, and while I have of course seen the aftermath on TV since then, this book actually brought it to life more than ever (I connect more to books than anything else). There were moments I would think “That cannot be true,” and I would look it up only to find out it was; it was too horrible to believe. I actually learned more details about 9/11 than ever before and it’s more vivid in my mind now. That part of the book was really good. It did suspend my disbelief a little bit that Brandon witnessed every single major event, but whatever, I don’t really care. Then onto Reshmina’s story. I never knew the details of why the US invaded Afghanistan. Now I do because this book taught me. I also learned a lot about the current state of the US-overseen government and the ongoing fight against the Taliban. Then It takes a strong anti-war, anti-US army stance and that’s where I differ with it. I understand there is controversy about the US invading Afghanistan, and I don’t have an educated opinion on that issue. But as far as the US pulling out, I think they don’t need to just leave like this book proposed. If they leave, go slowly or the Taliban will take over. I just don’t think there’s a good option right now for Afghanistan. Also, I do think the military men and women are heroes. Ground Zero releases on Tuesday and it can spark a lot of discussion! Thank you @kidlitexchange for the review copy—all opinions are my own.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    My favorite book so far this year. First this is what it is about. It is told from 2 different people. Brandon on Sept. 11, 2001 and Reshimina on Sept. 11, 2019.--Brandon is visiting his dad on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 when the attack comes he is in the elevator; Reshmina is a girl in Afghanistan who has grown up in the aftermath of that attack but dreams of peace, becoming a teacher and escaping her village and the narrow role that the Taliban believes is My favorite book so far this year. First this is what it is about. It is told from 2 different people. Brandon on Sept. 11, 2001 and Reshimina on Sept. 11, 2019.--Brandon is visiting his dad on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 when the attack comes he is in the elevator; Reshmina is a girl in Afghanistan who has grown up in the aftermath of that attack but dreams of peace, becoming a teacher and escaping her village and the narrow role that the Taliban believes is appropriate for women--both are struggling to survive, both changed forever by the events of 9/11. Each person who reads this story will feel different emotions from the other. Living in Indiana when this happened, I feel some of my feelings will be different from someone living in NYC on Sept. 11, 2001 or a child that was effected by the loss of someone there that day, etc. I felt it was a powerful story. Brandon had no idea what was going on but I did. It broke my heart to read his side of the story knowing what was happening. I loved how Gratz did not put his political viewpoint in either character. To me it was a well written story about a horrible historical moment in our history. One that should never be forgotten. I think this would be an excellent book for adults to read with their children as we approach the 20 year anniversary.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Trisha Perry

    In 2001 Brandon is with his dad at work after getting into trouble at school, they are in the World Trade Center on the 107th floor. During a lull Brandon sneaks of to buy his friend a new toy to replace the one that got broken in the school incident. When the tower is rocked and Brandon is seperated from his only parent and teammate. In 2019 Reshmina has only known war. Her village sees it all first hand and her brother want to become a Taliban fighter, to avenge their dead sister who was kille In 2001 Brandon is with his dad at work after getting into trouble at school, they are in the World Trade Center on the 107th floor. During a lull Brandon sneaks of to buy his friend a new toy to replace the one that got broken in the school incident. When the tower is rocked and Brandon is seperated from his only parent and teammate. In 2019 Reshmina has only known war. Her village sees it all first hand and her brother want to become a Taliban fighter, to avenge their dead sister who was killed on her wedding day. This book alternates between the two main character and their views on what is happening 18 years apart but brought on by the one act. This book is full of action and suspense, but is a important story not to forget but told in a way that tweens will understand. Alan Gratz has a way of taking some of the hard events in our history and bringing them out for our young readers. He tells it the way it happens but doesn't glorify war nor sugar coat why it happened. I personally thank him for that, war is not a wonderful thing to be taken lightly and he doesn't. This is a great book for tweens that were not alive in 2001.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Belle Ellrich

    *I WAS PROVIDED A PHYSICAL GALLEY OF THIS BOOK BY MY EMPLOYER. THIS DOES NOT AFFECT MY OPINION* RATING: 4.75 stars I really fell in love with this book. I was not expecting to love it as much as I ended up doing, and I really think this will be an important book for future and upcoming generations of middle-grade readers. I was born the year after 9/11, and I didn't really learn enough about it to understand or grasp it until about ten years after the fact. Putting that into perspective, I have an *I WAS PROVIDED A PHYSICAL GALLEY OF THIS BOOK BY MY EMPLOYER. THIS DOES NOT AFFECT MY OPINION* RATING: 4.75 stars I really fell in love with this book. I was not expecting to love it as much as I ended up doing, and I really think this will be an important book for future and upcoming generations of middle-grade readers. I was born the year after 9/11, and I didn't really learn enough about it to understand or grasp it until about ten years after the fact. Putting that into perspective, I have an outsider's view and understanding of it. Going into this book, I feel like I learned so much more about it. Oftentimes, people forget about the after-effects of 9/11. The war, the death, and the blatant hate. With Reshmina's POV in this book, we learned about all of that. We learned about the swaying of the Taliban on young boys who are tired of hearing and seeing the war in their country, we learned about the motives of a lot of the children who were affected by 9/11, and so much more. Reshmina put a lot of things into perspective, and Alan Gratz did a fantastic job of portraying her feelings, thoughts and emotions on each subject at hand. I think Gratz did a great job of also developing her character. He put her through a lot of decisions a young girl should never have to make, and I really liked how this was also touched on. With Brandon's POV, Gratz did a great job of making the reader feel like they were in his shoes. If placed in a situation like this, I think any person--no matter the age--would probably feel and react how Brandon did. Like Reshmina, it was easy to understand and feel the emotions and thoughts that Brandon displayed on each of his pages. All in all, I think a lot of things about this story are perfect for middle-grade readers. I think the pacing was fit just right for the story, and I think the characters were clearly put through a lot of development and thought, as well as the plot. For that, I rate this book 4.75 stars. I look forward to reading this book to my younger brothers, and I have no doubt that they'll more than likely end up liking this book too.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    As I was reading this book, it brought up memories of this fateful day. I was transported back in time and could remember where I was and the emotions I felt watching the Twin Towers burning and crumbling on the television. Therefore you could say that I did get emotional while reading this book. However, I thought this was a well written book for the younger readers. They may not remember this event but they will connect with Brandon and Reshmina. Although, I have to say that I connected with Br As I was reading this book, it brought up memories of this fateful day. I was transported back in time and could remember where I was and the emotions I felt watching the Twin Towers burning and crumbling on the television. Therefore you could say that I did get emotional while reading this book. However, I thought this was a well written book for the younger readers. They may not remember this event but they will connect with Brandon and Reshmina. Although, I have to say that I connected with Brandon a bit more myself. Not that Reshmina's story was not significant as well with the invasion of Taliban. I just was more connected with the Twin Towers as I just remember it a bit more stronger. I know that events like these are important to remember as they are part of our history. Therefore, I am happy to share this book with my nephews.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Guzman

    I appreciated how the author told us two stories: one, the story of 9-year-old Brandon, who was in the North Tower with his dad on 9/11, and: two, the story of Reshima, a young Afghani girl caught in the war between the Taliban and the US soldiers in 2019. Gratz doesn’t shy away from how terrible the events were on 9/11, but he still writes in a simple way that kids who have grown up hearing of it but don’t have memories of that day themselves will be able to maybe understand why it was so impac I appreciated how the author told us two stories: one, the story of 9-year-old Brandon, who was in the North Tower with his dad on 9/11, and: two, the story of Reshima, a young Afghani girl caught in the war between the Taliban and the US soldiers in 2019. Gratz doesn’t shy away from how terrible the events were on 9/11, but he still writes in a simple way that kids who have grown up hearing of it but don’t have memories of that day themselves will be able to maybe understand why it was so impactful. And I think it is wise to show how not everything the Americans have tried to do since then has been helpful. I did cry a few times—how could you not?—but they are both important stories and I am glad to add this to my bookshelf.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Leigh Anne

    Alan Gratz books are always a hit in my classroom, and I believe Ground Zero will be too! My students have a high interest in 9/11 books, so this definitely fits a need. Gratz has become a master at telling multiple stories as he weaves the stories of different characters in different time periods and somehow connects them in the end. Brandon, the main character in Ground Zero is nine; however, I would have some concerns about placing this book in the hands of students that age due to some of th Alan Gratz books are always a hit in my classroom, and I believe Ground Zero will be too! My students have a high interest in 9/11 books, so this definitely fits a need. Gratz has become a master at telling multiple stories as he weaves the stories of different characters in different time periods and somehow connects them in the end. Brandon, the main character in Ground Zero is nine; however, I would have some concerns about placing this book in the hands of students that age due to some of the graphic scenes. I know my middle school students are going to love this one!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mr. Salerno

    Alan Gratz's latest master class in how to write middle grade historical fiction. Brandon and Reshmina's experiences explore the tragedy Americans experienced in 2001 and how our response has affected Afghans for nearly twenty years. Told from both characters' perspectives, Ground Zero is an honest and important story that will be the first book I hand to readers looking for stories about 9/11. Reviewed from a free ARC from Edelweiss. Alan Gratz's latest master class in how to write middle grade historical fiction. Brandon and Reshmina's experiences explore the tragedy Americans experienced in 2001 and how our response has affected Afghans for nearly twenty years. Told from both characters' perspectives, Ground Zero is an honest and important story that will be the first book I hand to readers looking for stories about 9/11. Reviewed from a free ARC from Edelweiss.

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