One month from today marks the fifteenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Very soon after the attacks, Kerry O'Malley Cerra discovered that Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers, lived just around the corner from her.
In her words. "Within a day or two of the attacks, my alternating moods of anger,
sadness, and pride suddenly had a new emotion to deal with. Fear."
As Kerry struggled with unexpected emotions and the changing landscape of American relationships, a story began to emerge. JUST A DROP OF WATER echoes her own emotional experience as two boys, one Muslim and one Christian struggle to keep their friendship in the face of the 9/11 attacks.
Jake, a highly competitive cross-country runner has the usual rivalries with team mates and competitors. And those rivalries have him making plans for winning in a less than sportsmanlike manner. But his plans are hijacked when terrorists take over multiple airplanes and crash them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon building.
Yet another plane is brought down by heroic passengers on a plane flying over western Pennsylvania. All airline flights are suspended. It is as if the entire world comes to a standstill.
Jake's meet is cancelled and Jake's world changes as his best friend, Sam, who is Muslim, comes under suspicion. Fiercely loyal, Jake attempts to maintain their friendship but it feels as if he is the only one fighting to maintain trust and normalcy.
JUST A DROP OF WATER echoes the feelings of many Americans in the wake of 9/11 and it does so via the authentic voice of a boy with a big heart and sometimes misguided intentions. The sports theme lends itself to bigger questions of playing fair, fighting dirty, and making peace.
Teachers and librarians, if you're looking for an engaging novel to help your students grasp the enormity of 9/11 and how it is shaping our worldview, reach for this book. Here's a quick preview.
Kerry's background in Social Studies makes her an ideal person to speak to your students about her book and her passion for peacemaking. She loves engaging with students and will turn them on to reading, not only her book, but many other examples that she'll bring with her.
JUST A DROP OF WATER will be included in the #MGGetsReal giveaway (open to educators) that will be kicked off on August 16 at the NCTE blog. Please do enter for a set of five books on tough topics.