Towers Falling

by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Hardcover, 2016




Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (2016), 240 pages


"While learning about September 11th, fifth grader Dèja (born after the attacks) realizes how much the events still color her world"--

User reviews

LibraryThing member bnbookgirl
Deja a young homeless girl is starting in a new school. Her class is learning about the history of 9/11 and how it is connected to each person. Deja doesn't understand why she has to study something she wasn't alive for and knows nothing about. Throughout the lesson, Deja comes to learn she is connected to 9/11 more than she could every imagine. This book is filled with great young characters and old characters. It is interesting to read about the 9/11 tragedy from a character who was not born yet. I really enjoyed this book and it would be great to use this approach in teaching about these hard to broach subjects. I will definitely use this title in my annual book talk to our local reading council.… (more)
LibraryThing member WhitneyYPL
The author does an exceptional job explaining the significance of 9/11, intended for young readers born after the event. Also an excellent resource for teachers looking to educate their classes about this national tragedy.

Main character Deja is a Brooklyn native, recently moved into a homeless shelter with her parents and two younger siblings. As a result, Deja is attending 5th grade at a new school where the class is studying the attack on the Twin Towers as a cross-curriculum project. She becomes friends with Sabeen, a wealthy Muslim classmate, and new student Ben, recently relocated from Arizona due to his parents' impending divorce. As Deja and her friends realize history's impact on the present day, Deja uncovers a more personal connection to the 9/11 tragedy through her father.

A multicultural cast, caring adults, and an encouraging classroom atmosphere provide a supportive setting; although, the author doesn't shy away from the facts and there is a scene where the kids are secretly watching a Youtube video of the event. However, this is a story about connections and compassion and that is the message that readers will ultimately take away. Recommend to mature upper elementary and middle school students. Not AR listed at present. JF
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LibraryThing member imtanner2
This is a terrific story about a girl named Deja who's family is homeless. During a history project with her friends, Deja finds that she has a bigger connection to September 11th than she ever would have thought.
LibraryThing member Brainannex
I never really thought about kids having not been alive to experience 9/11. Which is dumb of me because, of course, duh. This book does a great job of taking one of those kids and having her come to a larger realization about her life and her world. Although a bit of an "issue" book, this is still a great read and Jewell Parker Rhodes is a modern master of middle grade.… (more)
LibraryThing member lillibrary
15 years after 9/11, as 5th grader Deja is taught the historical significance of this tragic event in her Brooklyn elementary school, she discovers a personal connection to the tragedy through her father.
LibraryThing member SamMusher
I wanted to love this, but some key elements of characterization were missing for me. I didn't feel where the kids' friendship came from in the first place. Why did Ben and Sabeen stick with Deja even though she was (realistically, defensively) mean to them? And the way the characters talked or Deja narrated felt elegiac, but so unlike real kids' voices that I often had to roll my eyes:

"It's a metaphor," I say. "Like we study in stories, poems. Water is life."
"Tears," Ben replies.... "Constantly falling."

It will work, I think, as a 9/11 teaching tool for young readers. The bones are a standard school friendship story, which most kids are willing to read. The narrative follows the kids' process of learning about 9/11 from their teacher, and their own research when the adults around them don't want to talk. The clear message is that we are all one human family, including the beauty of all our differences. Very very mild spoiler: I'm grateful to have the story of Deja's dad's ongoing health problems from surviving the Towers. Those are very real lingering effects and have very real and devastating consequences for families like Deja's. We need to talk about that more.

This was a book club book for a local public library, and the librarian told me it was everyone's favorite, despite the wide age range of the club (4th-8th grade or so?).
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LibraryThing member snickel63
I absolutely loved this book so much I try to read it every year to my students and plan to read it in memory of September 11th. Many kids do not know about this historic event because it was in 2001. It is an interesting take on the event because the main character doesn't know about that past even though she lives so close to monument. I also find it interesting to see how the teacher tries to teach this event to her students using different resources and ideas. My students always ask to finish this book once we have read a few chapters.… (more)
LibraryThing member Staciele
Several years ago, I read Jewell Parker Rhodes book on Hurricane Katrina. It too was written for middle-grade readers as a way to understand what happened during the disaster in New Orleans. NINTH WARD focused on a young girl who lived in Louisana and was tragically affected by Katrina. I thought it was very well done and it left an impact on me.

Parker Rhodes is back with another book perfect for middle-grade readers to try to understand the impact that 9/11 had on adults when the children growing up now, 15 years later (at the time this was written) were not even born yet. None of our children remember the actual event, but it is something we have talked about and watched news features about each year since it happened. As we are coming up on the 16th anniversary of the day America was attacked, this book might be a good way to approach a conversation with your child about what happened and how to understand it.

In this fictional account, Deja doesn't understand why her father is constantly in bed, with a headache, or angry. He no longer works which means her mom has to work even more hours. Deja is often responsible for caring for her younger siblings and they now live in a homeless shelter which is embarrassing and awful. It's the first day of 5th Grade and she's in a new school. Deja puts on her tough outer exterior and decides she isn't going to be nice to anybody in order to protect herself. Everyone else has a lunch box or money at lunch time, but instead, Deja decides to roam the halls. She has no friends...until a couple of kids in her class extend an olive branch. At first, Deja refuses to accept their offer of friendship, but then eventually Sabeen and Ben become her family as well as her teacher, Miss Garcia. All of the teachers are working together to teach about "our history, that's it's alive, and where we are from". Part of this has to do with the attack on 9/11 and Deja doesn't understand why it's important to learn about that one day and why her dad is so upset that her school is talking about it.

Deja tells the story and her voice is realistic and full of emotion. I can totally imagine her feelings of frustration with the school, her new friends, her father, and the other families at the shelter. I understand her unwillingness to trust new people and relationships and her misunderstandings of what is going on with her dad. If nothing else, Deja's story is a reminder for us to be open and honest with our kids, encouraging conversations about what is happening in the news, in our schools, in our communities, and the world around us. Children aren't dumb. They hear things at school, on the TV or radio, or from their friends. The best way to ease their fears is to be honest and open about what is happening. Once that happened for Deja, life became much easier for her and her family.

Jewell Parker Rhodes knows how to get into a child's mind and access their fears and frustrations. Children will be able to identify and empathize with Deja and her friends. Talking about disasters can be difficult, but with a story like TOWERS FALLING or NINTH WARD, you can remind children that there is still good in the world and we can always have hope.
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LibraryThing member lummigirl
The lead character is a ten year old girl named Deja who starts her 5th grade year in a new school while living in a homeless shelter with her father, mother and two younger siblings. We know something is "wrong" with her father by Deja's descriptions of his nightmares and lack of interaction with her and the rest of the family. As an assignment, Deja and her assignment partners must research the twin towers falling and the events of 9/11 but to Deja this is "history" in the sense that it happened so long ago - i.e. before she was born (in the a story it is 15 years ago) so why should she care? How does something like this affect her, especially when she has her own familial problems to worry about. One of the interesting aspects of this book is one of Deja's partners is Muslim and this adds an interesting complication to the story. Through this assignment and her homeroom and 5th grade teacher Deja examines her own family, what a community is and what healing is and how it takes place.… (more)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

256 p.


0316262226 / 9780316262224

Local notes

young readers
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