September 2nd 2014 by Sky Pony Press
E ARC from the author/publisher
Jake doesn’t like to run cross country but loves track, and knows that his coach demands that he do cross country or he’ll be cut in the spring. He hopes to be made a team captain along with his long time best friend Sam, but a new boy and fast runner, Kirk, is made captain instead. When the Twin Towers in New York are bombed, Jake’s world is shaken. His mother, whose father was killed in a war, is nervous and upset, especially since his father had flown on business on Monday the 10th. One of the bombers was from the boys town of Coral Springs, Florida, and had withdrawn a large amount of money at the bank and was assisted by Sam’s father. Because his card was found with the terrorists things, he is questioned by the FBI and eventually taken away… because the family is Muslim. Sam suffers greatly at the hands of local bullies Bobby and Rigo, who are targeting any Muslims they can find. To make matters worse, Kirk’s father was working at the Pentagon and was killed. Cross country meets are suspended, school is a tense place to be, and both Jake and Sam are struggling to get through the days following the bombing. The school decides to try to help students by planning a peace assembly, and Jake realizes that Bobby and Rigo have something planned. Can he stop them from being complete idiots and causing even more pain to the community? Jake’s grandmother believes that “just a drop of water” can have a big impact, and Jake starts to realize that he can, too.
Strengths: This book does an excellent job of addressing a need in historical fiction—9/11. By next year, all of the students in our school will be much too young to remember 9/11. Not only was the day itself described much as I remember it, but the aftermath of public outcry and support are also accurate. Jake, Sam, and Kirk all have ties to the event that are convincingly described, and the cross country details are good as well. Sam’s lack of knowledge about his cultural heritage and then his suffering on behalf of it are a genius stroke.
Weaknesses: While the involvement of Jake’s grandfather in a previous war situation is a nice twist, and the presence of a neighbor who was in WWII adds some depth to the story, it also makes it slightly confusing.