by Wendy Mills
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Publication Date: August 9th 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
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Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Sixteen-year-old Jesse is used to living with the echoes of the past. Her older brother died in the September 11th attacks, and her dad since has filled their home with anger and grief. When Jesse gets caught up with the wrong crowd, one momentary hate-fueled decision turns her life upside down. The only way to make amends is to face the past, starting Jesse on a journey that will reveal the truth about how her brother died.
In 2001, sixteen-year-old Alia is proud to be Muslim . . . it's being a teenager that she finds difficult. After being grounded for a stupid mistake, Alia decides to confront her father at his Manhattan office, putting her in danger she never could have imagined. When the planes collide into the Twin Towers, Alia is trapped inside one of the buildings. In the final hours, she meets a boy who will change everything for her as the flames rage around them . . .
Interweaving stories from past and present, All We Have Left brings one of the most important days in our recent history to life, showing that love and hope will always triumph.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I cannot begin to express how this story impacted me, helped me learn, opened my eyes, and made me feel so much. There were moments when I felt I was inside the tower and picture everything in my head. I tried to stop reading this book so I could do my normal life stuff, but this story gripped me so hard and it begged me to keep reading. This was more than I imagined it would be. I knew it would be emotional, but not like this.
A lot of the events that Wendy Mills included in the story are actual events that happened on September 11, 2001. While reading, you know they have to be real. There’s no way it could be faked with the rawness of the situations. I even thought the author had been there for the events to be so detailed, but she actually did lots of research and was able to include the tragedies that a few people went through on that day.
“I think bravery is trusting yourself enough to know you can hold on for that one more minute.”
One aspect I wasn’t expecting of the story was the Muslim side. Let me tell you, I loved that the author added so much of this in the story. She talks about the hatred towards Muslims back in 2001 and in 2016, and the sad truth is that sometimes we judge all of them for just a bunch that committed a crime. We shouldn’t judge any of them at all and this story taught me that.
I was happy to see that Ramadan was in this story! I actually learned about this around a month ago, thanks to a friend from Instagram who explained everything to me. To see it in the story and know that everything mentioned was exactly how it’s done in real life, filled me with joy because there’s truth behind it all. The author didn’t just include it for the sake of writing a story. She did her thorough research and it shows because I felt the conviction of the author through her writing.
There are so many life lessons throughout the story, with Alia’s life and Jesse’s life. I wasn’t a fan of Jesse at the beginning. She was ignorant, blaming every Muslim for what had been done to her family, making reckless decisions. Along the way, she’s able to see that not all Muslims are mean, that a lot of them are just like her. When the realization happens, you see her slowly develop into a better person.
“When you see a mountain, you either want to go around them, climb over them […] But the one thing you never can do is ignore them.”
All We Have Left conveys a powerful message about acceptance, understanding, and most of all, love and unity. My review will never make this book justice. You have to go in blind and experience everything that this story will make you feel.
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