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Towers Falling

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  8,380 ratings  ·  1,413 reviews
From award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes, a powerful novel set fifteen years after the 9/11 attacks.

When her fifth-grade teacher hints that a series of lessons about home and community will culminate with one big answer about two tall towers once visible outside their classroom window, Deja can't help but feel confused. She sets off on a journey of discovery, with ne
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published July 12th 2016 by Little, Brown BFYR
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P.Shull I honestly didn't like it but of course I am just one opinion. …moreI honestly didn't like it but of course I am just one opinion. (less)
Caroline The main characters are Deja and her family, Sabeen and Ben, her friends from school, and Miss Garcia, a teacher who empathizes for Deja and inspires …moreThe main characters are Deja and her family, Sabeen and Ben, her friends from school, and Miss Garcia, a teacher who empathizes for Deja and inspires her to learn.(less)

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Average rating 4.07  · 
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 ·  8,380 ratings  ·  1,413 reviews

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Oct 06, 2016 rated it liked it
I have to start with the author's note, part of which reads "...I tried to create a book that teachers could teach. A book that didn't shy away from the tragedy but instead gave a sense of how citizens expressing our American identity were strong, brave and triumphant over terror." Hmmmm. I would replace instead with also because this book did both of those things. The author deserves accolades for her bravery in tackling this difficult subject.

Explaining September 11th to my children is somethi
This is an important book. I just didn't happen to love it. Reasons this book is important:

(1) It's important because it covers 9/11 in an upper elementary +middle school friendly way. Instead of taking place in 2001, the book takes place Brooklyn in present day, as Deja's teachers are gearing up for a unit on 9/11 and Deja begins to uncover bigger mysteries about what happened on that day and why her father is so sad.

(2) I also appreciate that Deja lives in a homeless shelter. Some of my reade
Jul 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
My full review of Towers Falling is now on my blog, BlueEyedBiblio!! ...more
Jul 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
I heard Jewell Parker Rhodes interviewed on NPR a couple of weeks ago and was excited to read this book for two reasons. First, I teach high school English and am always on the lookout for new YA Literature for my students. Second, I was living in NYC on September 11, 2001 and have a deep personal connection to that day and the weeks that followed. I wanted to like this book so much that I kept reading even when half way through the book the story was going nowhere and I was ready to go into ins ...more
Sep 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Teachers of upper elementary students.
This book hits so many great notes! Deja is a 10-year-old 5th grader in a new school. She lives with her parents and 2 siblings in a homeless shelter in Brooklyn. From her school windows, they have a vew of Ground Zero and it is 15 years after the 9/11 attacks. Deja is African American and soon makes two new best friends - Ben, a bespectacled white boy, and Sabeen, a Muslim girl. They are a powerful team. The book tells the story of 9/11 in a way that helps young people who weren't even born whe ...more
Abby Johnson
I love you, Deja.


Nobody tells kids anything. At least that's how Deja begins to feel when her class at her new school starts studying the attacks of September 11. Even though she has grown up in New York, Deja knows nothing about what happened. Other kids do, even kids who didn't grow up in New York. So why's Deja on the outside looking in?

Deja's home life has never been very stable. Her pop is sick, a strange illness that seems to make him sad a lot and means that he can't keep a job. Deja
Apr 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review is of an ARC of the novel I received from NetGalley.

I was a senior in high school when the Twin Towers fell. Since then, I've worked with high schoolers who were in elementary school when it happened, and middle schoolers who were born in the early 2000s. My current sixth graders were born after the Iraq War started. I have to remind myself how distant 9/11 is to them. To me, it feels immediate, like it was a handful of years ago. I debated for a high school in the Boston area: there
Leigh Collazo

Hundreds more reviews like this one at Mrs. ReaderPants.

REVIEW: Oh, the mixed feelings I have about this book! Overall, I think this is a very needed title to have in school and public libraries. It isn't easy to explain the horror and significance of 9-11 to someone who wasn't even alive at that time. I know the JFK assassination does not have nearly the impact on me as it did on my parents. And Pearl Harbor was a huge event for my grandparents. But even though I have visited Pearl Harbor perso
Susan  Dunn
Aug 26, 2016 rated it liked it
As the author commented when I heard her speak earlier this year, kids today don't know about September 11 b/c it happened before they were born. That is what motivated her to write this book, about a 5th grade girl named Deja who has lived her whole life in NYC, but doesn't know anything about the events of 9/11. When her new school begins a unit on that day, Deja doesn't understand why it's such a big deal: "I wasn't even born. I'm sorry they're dead. Honest. But why should I care? But as she ...more
Jul 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
My third 9/11 novel this summer and just as good. Such a unique take on this historical event. Very well written and very MG friendly! A must read...
I struggled a bit with the main character in this one. I loved so many elements of this novel, especially the parts that it was based on a real school and teachers who witnessed the towers falling from their classroom windows on 9/11. It was intensely readable and it may* make a good read aloud for my 6th graders.

I loved the raw honesty of the main character. She immediately voices what I hear in my classroom year after year on 9/11. "Why should I care? Why is this important to me? I wasn't even
Ms. Yingling
Oct 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: wndb
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Déja is living with her family in a homeless shelter in Brooklyn. Her mother is working, but her father is ill and unable to hold a job or even get out of bed some days. Déja needs to take care ofsiblings Raymond and Leda as well as go to a new school and understand her new classmates. The school is better than her previous one, but Déja doesn't care too much for the writing assignments-- she didn't have a summer vacation, and "home" is a difficult concept.
Sep 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
I feel a little undone after reading this book partly, I think, because it took me back to the morning of 9/11 and the horror I felt as I sat on the couch in my grad school apartment, uneaten bowl of cereal in my hands, glued to the television, watching as the plane hit the second tower and, then, as both towers fell.

The book was also painful because this election cycle doesn't at all seem to reflect the generosity shown by Deja, the 5th grade protagonist, when she writes "I love my American ho
Amy Neftzger
Feb 28, 2016 rated it liked it
There were some nice elements in this book, and I appreciate the way that the writer handled the incident of the Twin Towers in a graceful manner. The book addresses survivor guilt and the perspective of those who weren't yet alive when the event took place. The most interesting part for me was the juxtaposition of those handling the experience of the loss (parents, teachers, adults) with those trying to understand from the perspective from a position of never having known the world before 9/11 ...more
Beth Honeycutt
Jul 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
It's Interesting to think about the fact that my students today were born after 9/11. I remember watching the news for days and worrying that my 16 month old daughter was in the room while the world seemed to fall apart. Obviously she didn't understand but I still thought about if I should only watch the coverage after she was in bed.

We've been to the Memorial and the museum. An awe-inspiring and deeply moving place. I could picture standing there as Ben and Deja did in the book.
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
<3 <3 <3 <3 :) :) :) :D
Lauren Waters
Aug 12, 2017 rated it liked it
I appreciate this novel for its important messages about history, what it means to be AMERICAN, embracing diversity and all walks of life, and overcoming anger. There are many teachable moments with community ties, but some of the bigger connections felt forced for the characters. For my students that choose to read this book, I hope it teaches you understanding and empathy for an event that has severely impacted our nation.
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Tiff at Mostly YA Lit
Review originally posted on Mostly YA Lit:

This book is a teacher’s gem. With the 15th anniversary of 9/11 coming up, Jewell Parker Rhodes has created a book about friendship and diversity in the midst of understanding history – both recent and very very far in the past.

Prickly Deja is a fifth grader who has recently moved to a community home because of poverty. Her father can’t hold a job, and her mother, though she works hard, can’t make enough to keep the family in their own home. Deja is natu
May 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars, rounded up. It's hard to believe that there is now a generation of children who need to learn about 9/11 -- children who weren't born when the towers fell and for whom the subject is truly history. But, time is inexorable and it's good that this book is here to help kids begin to understand how this one day has shaped the world they inhabit. Rhodes does a stellar job of making the horror of the attacks vivid, but not overwhelming to its nine and ten year old audience. She also creates ...more
An important addition to fiction about 9/11 -- told in first person by Deja, a girl living with her family in a homeless shelter. Deja's parents are obviously struggling...Pop doesn't work, seems...sad all the time. Mom works all the time. And Deja watches her two younger siblings. Because of the move to the shelter, Deja must go to a new school. A progressive school. And that changes all their lives.

The school used to view the Twin Towers, now nothing but an empty skyline. The teachers decide t
Dec 03, 2016 rated it liked it
I loved the beginning of this story, getting to know resilient (sort of) Deja and her new found school friends Ben and Sabeen. The curriculum in the classroom of Deja's new school is based around 9/11, which the reader slowly learns as the story progresses. Deja's feisty personality shines through as she struggles through assignments that make her uncomfortable and rebellious. However as the subject of 9/11 emerges the story unravels, her friends are a bit too understanding of her to be believab ...more
Elissa Sweet
Jun 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This beautiful book moved me and made me cry, and I think it's a must-read for kids and adults alike. Wrapped in the story of Dèja—a homeless fifth-grader in Brooklyn who learns the story of 9/11 and its effect on her family—is a heartbreaking portrait of friendship, poverty, race, mental health and what it really means to be an American. This book is a wonderful, gentle way to introduce kids to the terrorist attacks while also teaching them about diversity and homelessness. Highly recommend. ...more
Cheryl Gladfelter
3.5 stars. I really love the main character Deja and her slow realization about her dad. I also really liked her relationship with her two friends, the fact that the family is in a homeless shelter and that Deja won't lie about it, and her connection to her teacher. I wish some parts of the story were a little stronger in some areas than others but it's a really powerful story about 9/11 for kids who were born after it happened. ...more
Jenny Jo Weir
WOW. Eye opening for sure. I hadn’t taken the time to consider what children born after 911 might think about it but I’ve now read 2 books almost back to back regarding this and it shows 2 very different perspectives. I honestly think we should all take the time to read and visit books like this to see how those events affect the younger generations. It’s all incredibly sad but a great reminder of what many of us take for granted.
Nov 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Consumed with the struggle to keep her family together amidst poverty and homelessness, 5th grader Deja has no memories or concern about the terrorist attacks on her home city before she was born. When the teacher at her new school announces a unit on the difficult subject, Deja doesn’t understand why she should care about what seems to be ancient history.

It’s difficult for me to wrap my head around an American child who is completely unaware of 9/11, but at the same time, I think: How much cou
Jan 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
September 11, 2001 is, like in so many other Americans, emblazoned into my memory so clearly it could have been yesterday. When Déja talks about the video, I could see it just as I saw it that day on the news. I can't imagine living through it on site. This book deals with those events 15 years removed from them -- and how the day affected people and still affects them today. It's an excellent young person read. ...more
Raegan Angela Jones
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
A good way to get young readers interested in 9/11.
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
This booked talked about what it was like to be an american. It mainly looked at what 9/11 was like for the people, but the overall message was very clear that we are all different and that some things change for the better, and some for the worse. I think more people should read this book to truly understand the diversity, freedom, and connections that we all share in America and as people.
Addison Zizkovsky
May 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Towers Falling is a great book instead of watching what happens in 9/11, there is this new kid. The new kid is named Deja. When her teacher grave Deja a project about 911 Deja does not know what that is. Will Deja finished her project?
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Jewell Parker Rhodes has always loved reading and writing stories. Born and raised in Manchester, a largely African-American neighborhood on the North Side of Pittsburgh, she was a voracious reader as a child. She began college as a dance major, but when she discovered there were novels by African Americans, for African Americans, she knew she wanted to be an author. She wrote six novels for adult ...more

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“The words strike like they never did before. Before words were flat. Now I hear them - understand in a new way.” 3 likes
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