Reviewed by Me for TeensReadToo.com
On September 11th, 2001, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives in numerous acts of terrorism against the United States. Even now, five years later, people still ask the question, "Where were you on 9/11?" I remember watching, on that fateful day, news coverage that left me horrified, aghast, and haunted. Where was I on 9/11? At work, on a day that started out like any other and quickly turned into one that no one will ever forget.
If you asked Tess DeNunzio, the fifteen-year-old girl at the center of DEAR ZOE, where she was on 9/11, she'll be quick to tell you that she was at home with her younger half-sister, Zoe, waiting for the school bus like any other day. Except for that one moment, when she let her gaze wander elsewhere, and Zoe ran into the street, into the path of an oncoming car. For Tess and her family, 9/11 is a day they'll never forget.
DEAR ZOE is Tess's letter to Zoe, her way of healing from her sister's death and coming to terms with the changes that have taken place in her extended family. This isn't a story about September 11th, 2001, in the ways that most of us have come to view that day. As Tess puts it, "...just like all the people who go to New York and cry over the rubble. I want to tell them all to go home. I want to tell them to go home and hold their children or their lovers or their parents. I want to tell them that they are using that place as an excuse to be sad and afraid when there will be reason enough for that in their own lives if they just wait."
According to recent facts, nearly 150,000 people die every day. That's about 1.8 people every second. And yet no one seems to remember the other 147,000 people that died on 9/11. That includes myself. Until reading DEAR ZOE, I had never stopped to consider that there were other people around the world who were grieving for lost loved ones who had nothing to do with an act of terror.
Thanks to Mr. Beard, I now have a new way of looking at that day in history. I also have the story of Tess and Zoe, which will stay with me for much longer than it took for me to read the book. Love, loss, regret, and forgiveness mingle within the pages of DEAR ZOE to form a story that, quite possibly, you'll remember even five years later.
September 11, 2001 is a day most of us will never forget. Fifteen-year-old Tess won't forget it because that is the day her 3-year-old sister Zoe was killed. Told in the form of a letter to Zoe, the story is captivating and I thought captured the thoughts of a teenager well. I was a bit nervous about some of Tess' actions and thoughts which were less-than "good examples." However, there are teenagers that make bad choices so these events merely distracted me momentarily from the actual story. It isn't a happy story, and will make you think of all those who passed away on that horrible day with their passing having nothing to do with New York, Washington D.C. or Penn. It is also a coming of age story.
(On the CD) The book, narrated by the teenaged sister of a little girl killed by a hit-and-run driver, shows a very unique view of the tragedies of Sept 11, while not really about them at all. What about all the other "little" tragedies that happened that day? Were they somehow less important because they were less newsworthy? A very tragic and thought-provoking novel.