Author: Gratz, Alan
Brandon is visiting his dad on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 when the attack comes; 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.
Download a Teacher's Guide
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.80
Points: 9.0 Quiz: 510304
Kirkus Reviews (-) (01/01/21)
School Library Journal (+) (02/01/21)
Booklist (+) (01/01/21)
The Hornbook (00/03/21)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 01/01/2021 *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.
School Library Journal - 02/01/2021 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 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.