The book Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin (another 2019 Intermediate Nutmeg nominee) opens by recalling the weather. It was a beautiful day in which nobody could have possibly foreseen the tragedy about to occur. We sometimes talk about the weather when we are not quite sure what is the right thing to say. It is a fitting start to the horrors of 9/11; a day we will never forget.
Baskin does a phenomenal job of weaving together four very different characters. Their stories begin on Sept. 9th at O’Hare Airport. Sergio is an African American teen who is returning to NYC after receiving a special math award in Chicago. He lives with his grandmother in NYC. Naheed is a Middle Eastern Muslim girl from Columbus, Ohio. She is with her family waiting to pick up her visiting aunt and uncle. Aimee is transplanting from Chicago to California due to her mother’s new job. Will is a boy from Shanksville, Pennsylvania who is still healing from his father’s death one year ago. His family is just returning from a trip to Disney that was donated by their town.
The book moves everyone to their individual homes, with their own situations to work through. Timing is critical in that a couple of these characters almost lose loved ones to the events. Sergio’s newly met mentor is a firefighter who rushed to the scene to help. Aimee’s mom is scheduled to have a conference in the World Trade Center that very morning. The author captures the fear, chaos and heavy sadness of this day.
The characters come together at Ground Zero to conclude the story. The message that we are all connected is a powerful part of the book and one that touched me in the ending quite a bit (definitely some tears).