Friday, September 08, 2006

We All Fall Down by Eric Walters


Before I tell you about Eric Walter's book, I have to comment on the most amazing exhibit. I came over to Vancouver yesterday to see the Vancouver Art Gallery's Haida art exhibit which will only be here for another week. It was a wonderful combination of historical and contemporary work culled from various exhibits and private collections around the world. Some of the pieces I had seen before but many were new to me. The focus was on Raven, an important and recurring theme in Haida art. There were masks, jewelry, large and small carvings, bent boxes, and smaller totem poles as well as a dugout canoe and seven paddles carved by young artists currently being mentored. I particularly enjoyed the last room which was contemporary. I loved Robert Davidson's more modern work that has tended toward abstract but with clear ties to Haida. There was also some wonderful clothing with bold Haida influence gracing thick folds of black draping wool fabric. Another contemporary piece I enjoyed was a large hanging series of prints that told a sort of picture story; except that each picture was a provacative blend of cartoon and Haida art. It was stunning, and had also been created in book form; rather like a comic book if that makes any sense. An added treat included watching Reg Davidson carve. He is a master carver, and although I have never met him, I have two of his early numbered prints.

But, on to Eric Walter's book. As I mentioned in my last post, I have had We All Fall Down as an advance copy for some time, I think since last January. But, because of it's 9/11 subject, I have been reluctant to pick it up. With that time of the year rolling around again, I have found myself thinking about the whole question again, and about how it has truly changed the way we look at things; at least here in North America. Walter's wisely stays largely away from preaching, although he does sometimes border on it. What he does do is personalize a terrible and dark day in our collective history.

Will, the main character in Walter's story, is your average 14 year old kid, with girls, sports, and music on the brain. He is resentful that his father is always working, but other things occupy him; until a school-based job shadow forces him to drag his butt out of bed early one morning and accompany his father on the train to the Twin Towers in downtown Manhattan where his father works as a trader. Of course Will would rather go on a more exiting job shadow, like his friend who is going to a firehall where his dad is a firefighter, or that hot new girl whose brother works for MTV.

All that changes though, when Will catches a glimpse of a distant airplane. Moments later, a loud crash shakes the World Trade Center buildings and it's occupants. It changes everything, Will's relationship with his father, the face of Manhattan, and history. The timespan in this novel is short, a mere two days. There is no shortage of drama though. The way Walter's describes the bank of trader televisions switching from stock market news to a plane crashing into the World Trade Centre is chilling. The scene where Will witnesses two people falling or jumping to their deaths is equally chilling, and one I recall watching in horror on television along with millions of others around the world. It is a scene I would rather forget along with the scene of a second plane crashing through glass and steel. Walters gives the sense that Will, his father, and his father's co-workers are all watching too, only they are inside. He gives a sense of their horror, their confusion and helplessness, and finally of the bravery and resolve some of which we learned of later, some of which we will never know. Will and his father's climb down the stairs toward the floors where the plane crashed rather than away from it, is gripping. Their rescue of Ting, an injured woman who must be carried down 78 flights of stairs is not without drama either. Just when we think that all is well, the building collapses. This too is a mirror of what happened on that terrible day. While Will, his father, and Ting survive, there were so many who did not.

Whatever your politics, 9/11 is one of those days that won't easily be forgotten. Walter's We All Fall Down is a window into a shocking day a young generation of young readers will now have the opportunity to learn about. One can only hope that they never have to live through a similar event.

29 comments:

Sarah said...

this review was awsome!!!!!!i think that all those books about 9/11 are so overrated and the are all the same but then i read We All Fall Down by Eric Walters and i was just like "wow" his book is different and i thought it was cool how it was from a kid's point of view in stead of an adults or a bystander. see the kids perspective is great because adults have had a long time to live out their life but 14 year old kids have only had 14 year

-Sarah,12

readingkidsbooks said...

Glad you agree Sarah. Pass the word on to other readers. Sheryl

Anonymous said...

This book was amazing! This review is cool, too. I read it because it was one of the books on the Red Maple Readers' list!! I loved the amazing descripiton of that poem, too, Ring Around the Rosie, I liked it so much I recomended it to all my friends!

-Caterina, 13

Anonymous said...

We all fall down by Eric Walters must be the best book that I have ever read. It was so realistic. I LOVED IT! Reading the book made it seem alot more real then when I saw it on the news.I think this was because it was more descriptive. Eric Walters was REALLY good at describing something that he didn't see first hand. I hope that sometime everybody gets to read this book. I know that it really can be depressing reading about it, but it's the truth. So if you have any extra time and don't know what to do, READ THIS BOOK! It is absolutely brilliant!
-loved this book :)

readingkidsbooks said...

Caterina, glad you liked it. That poem is a bit of history, and the way Eric Walters worked in that history is pretty cool.

I think I'd better let Eric know that he has some real fans out there, especially the anonymous person who said "READ THIS BOOK! It is absolutely brilliant."

Anonymous said...

This was one of the books that i couldn't put down, no matter what. It was very real. i could picture it all along. THIS BOOK IS A MUST READ!

Anonymous said...

I LOVE THE BOOK!
But can you explain what the main message of the book is? Like whats the moral?

readingkidsbooks said...

I agree Catrina. I loved that poem, which has some very interesting history behind it by the way. Sheryl

Gavin Liam Logan said...

Hello. I teach English Language Arts and I just finished this novel. I was thinking it might fit nicely into the Saskatchewan Grade Nine ELA curiculum when I read the back. It's quite wonderful novel for young readers. Granted the dialgoue is a bit...cheesy, but overall it's a good novel and a good reminder of the terror that 9/11 brought about.

readingkidsbooks said...

Hey Gavin. I agree. A little cheesy in places, but what Walters did so well, was take an average kid to tell the story of an extraordinary day. It is the juxtaposition of ordinary against unimaginable that makes it so powerful. I don't think I have read a better Eric Walters book. Sheryl

Anonymous said...

I read this book for Red Maple and I was so moved. I did it for my Book Report this month. I loved how it was from a ,kid's perspective and really nudged all my friends to read it
-C.V., 13

readingkidsbooks said...

Good for you. The recommendation of a friend is a great way to spread the word about a good book.

aliisa said...

i liked this book a lot, i read it too. i think if you put some pictures of the twin towers on this review, it would be more eye catching! =)

12 year-old book fanatic said...

i LOVE this book! it is so fast-plotted! the review was great..although it could use some pictures of the twin towers to make it more eye-catching! i hope you take my advice, it worked on my school project(it was on the same book)!

aliisa said...

i liked this book a lot, i read it too. i think if you put some pictures of the twin towers on this review, it would be more eye catching! =)

aliisa said...

i read this book and I LOVED IT! i adore the fast moving plot. to me, your review is great but you should probably put some pictures of the twin towers to make it more eye-catching!

-book lover, 12

Anonymous said...

I just finished reading this book for school is was so good!!! My Mom even read it after i started telling her what was happening...
some other great books that I just finished reading are:
1. Small Steps
2. Someone like you
3. The heavenly shop
(We are doing literature circles)

readingkidsbooks said...

I love literature circles. Have a peek at some of the other books I've reviewed. You may want to suggest a few of them for your literature circle. Sheryl

Taylor said...

I really enjoyed this book.
I read it in less than a day.
But all I was wondering id this true story. Or is it themed on the whole events of those attacks?
I really liked this book. I hope he write more like it.
Thanks,
Taylor

Anonymous said...

okay ive read a few books about 9/11 and they were just boring and pointless but whne i read this book i couldnt put it down, it was face paced, and suprising. its a good book for people that like action. I loved the book, eric walters is amazing

Anonymous said...

what is the moral
i need it now
please and thank you

readingkidsbooks said...

What do you think? Gotta read to find out. Worth the read though.

Sheyl

Anonymous said...

it is an amazing book and it was my second book that i have read in my whole life. I couldnt leave the book was so amazing and i am persuaded to read more books.ERIC WALTERS YOU ROCK. 13 YEAR OLD

Anonymous said...

we all fall down ROX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

What I really like about this book was, it was short, fast-paced, thrilling, drama-filled, a page-turner, interesting, and it had the key point for a successful story; suspense. I could not put this book down! I spent a whole day just reading, reading, and reading. What I also liked about this book was that it was written through a child’s perspective, because to children their lives are the most precious thing they have.*****

Anonymous said...

amazing book.....definitely a must read. Eric portrays a totally different viewpoint: from the perspective of a 14 year old, which usually is not a common viewpoint in many books. And although this book touches on a gruesome part of history, Eric makes it very understandable, yet emotion-filled at the same time. This was a book that i read for a book study in school, and when i talked to many of the other readers of this book, they also liked it very much. So, for anybody who is thinking about reading this book, you shouldn't have to wait to decide any longer because it is by far, one of the best books i have read so far.

-laurel <3

Anonymous said...

This book was awesome, i had to read it for school. i loved it, it really showed me how much one horrible event can change your life. the point of view was also important because i am 14 and Will didn't know much about the world. this review made my day!!!!

Anonymous said...

i love eric walters

IT'S-ME said...

I LOVED THIS BOOK!

I loved how he made me feel apart of 9/11 and he described it very well!

Something that Eric Walters shouldnt have had ended the book the way he did, it made me flip the page and say "What THAT"S IT?" :( LOL. other than that this book was AMAZING! and it was suspenful until the very last page!

-13yearold :D