Review: Ground Zero

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.

For a middle-grade book, this book was intense. The story takes place in two different years, both on September 11th, in 2001 and in 2019. Both Brandon and Reshmina’s lives are changed forever on these days in heartbreaking ways.

Brandon wasn’t supposed to be at the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001, but he’d been suspended from school, so he had to tag along with his dad, who works at a restaurant on the 107th floor of the North Tower. Wanting to make things right for his friend, Brandon sneaks out of the restaurant to go down to the underground mall… only he gets stuck on the 89th floor when the first plane hits. Brandon is then torn between going back up to get to his dad and getting out of the tower alive. 

In 2019, Reshmina is living in a village that is no stranger to the war between the Taliban and the Afghan Army, along with the American Army. After an ambush just outside the village, an American soldier is left injured and Reshmina follows her heart to get him to help with her family. This sets her twin brother off, and he takes it on himself to go to the Taliban to report the American in their household, thus betraying his family. During this day of disaster, Reshmina learns a few things about the truth behind the war and family.

Trying to write a proper review for this book is hard. Again, it was intense as it deals with very real situations. The disaster of 9/11 in America is nothing to poke fun at, and it’s still baffling how many lives were lost to this day. Brandon might have been a fictional character, but his story was real for people that day in the Towers. The same goes for Reshmina and her family. What people in Afghanistan (and many countries in the Middle East) are going through right now with war is very real, and very heartbreaking. There are too many innocent lives being taken because of those who want power, and it’s just disturbing on so many levels.

Let me take a second here to give a warning… page 290 broke me. I’m talking mega tears here. Even thinking about it right now has me tearing up, so I need to close up this review.

Ground Zero is a must-read, regardless of how heartbreaking it is. What happened on 9/11 and the war overseas are too important to ignore. If you can handle it, I highly recommend this book. Just make sure you have some tissues nearby when you read it.

Rating: 5/5 stars

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