Young adult softcover
When Will Fuller’s grade nine history teacher, Mrs. Phelps, tells him that tomorrow “might be an experience that changes your entire life,” neither of them knows just how spot on her forecast will be. For the “tomorrow” she refers to is September 11, 2001, when Will is to travel by commuter train to job shadow with his stock trader father in his Dad’s offices in Manhattan’s prestigious Twin Towers at the World Trade Center. And thanks to the superb storytelling skills of Mississauga author and former teacher, Eric Walters, it turns out that “tomorrow” is a day when Will learns more than he ever expected to about his Dad, his Dad’s job and his Dad’s love for him and his Mom. And we all learn lots about the courageous bond between a man and his son during one of the world’s worst man-made disasters. The story is a vibrant and captivating tribute to the heroism of his two main characters and the memories of everyone who suffered on that tragic day when the Twin Towers fell.
Walters knows how to tell a riveting tale, how to ratchet up the tension, and how to create credible characters speaking realistic dialogue in believable situations, all to educate and entertain. And this fast-paced and at times breath-taking novel is a prime example of Walters’s literary talent.
In the just under two hundred pages of the first-person story that Will tells, Walters provides succinctly fleshed out portraits of a son and father in a life and death struggle, battling fire, smoke, and debris as they scramble down 85 floors of crumbling stairs. On the way they argue with office workers refusing to leave their desks, compete with each other in carrying an injured secretary on their backs, glimpse a television news report of the suicide planes crashing into the towers, observe the horror of people jumping to their death, and pass gear-laden firefighters doggedly clanking up the stairs while they determinedly head down. And as the story spins out floor by agonising floor, minute by terrifying minute, Will’s youthful heroism feeds off of his new-found respect for a Dad he thought was always too busy to pay much attention to him. In turn, Will’s father comes to realize his son has become the young man he had hoped for. And by the time we reach the hair-raising climax of the story, we are more than willing to believe Mrs. Phelps was right about Will’s “tomorrow” being a life-changing experience, and in more ways than one.
M. Wayne Cunningham (Books in Canada)
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