All We Have Left
In 2001: Alia is a Muslim American high school student who faces the ordinary problems of most high school girls, learning how to get along and compromise with her parents. They don’t always see eye to eye, and she feels like her parents have trouble accepting what is important to her. She goes to visit her dad at his work to try and reason with him, but while near the top of the World Trace Center, the unthinkable happens.
Today: Jesse lives with her parents and the ghost of her brother who was killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Her parents relationship has been decimated, her father drinks and is consumed by anger. His anger begins to wear off on her, when in an impulsive moment she decided to graffiti the Muslim Peace Center.
These two stories are told in alternating perspectives. This format allows us to transcend time and clearly see the differences and the similarities in the two girls. The way it was written really adds to the gripping horror and suspense of the situation. The description of people’s stories, fears, and feelings were very real and very heartbreaking. As an adult that is old enough to clearly remember that day, this book deeply touched me. So much so, that I plan on using it for a book club at the library this fall. I think it is an important topic that teenagers should know about. It seems to me that a lot of modern policy and conflict stemmed from this event. I think there are so many important messages in this book including diversity, family, friendship, ambition, acceptance, love, and fear. This book made me so sad and so happy all at the same time.