(Middle-grade reading level - I wouldn't suggest this book to Muslim students, it would be needlessly upsetting for them to relive this experience.)
This book was very different from the other 9/11 books I read because it focused very closely on the unjustified backlash against Muslim Americans after the attacks. The action unfolds in Florida, near where one of the hijackers was located. The story becomes quite engrossing as Jake's friend becomes embroiled in the controversy, primarily because his family has a Muslim background. Although I found myself frustrated with Jake's character, I also recognized that his confusion and anger was typical of the time. This story is realistic in its focus, but that realism makes the storyline a bit dark. Still, I think the book would be quite popular among middle-grade students.
From the publisher, “In this story about growing up in a difficult part of America’s history, Jake Green is introduced as a cross country runner who wants to be a soldier and an American hero when he grows up.
Before he can work far towards these goals, September 11th happens, and it is discovered that one of the hijackers lives in Jake’s town. The children in Jake’s town try to process everything, but they struggle. Jake’s classmate Bobby beats up Jake’s best friend, Sam Madina, just for being an Arab Muslim.
According to his own code of conduct, Jake wants to fight Bobby for messing with his best friend. The situation gets more complicated when Sam’s father is detained and interrogated by the FBI. Jake’s mother doubts Sam’s father’s innocence. Jake must choose between believing his parents and leaving Bobby alone or defending Sam.”