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All We Have Left


All We Have Left

Wendy Mills, author of POSITIVELY BEAUTIFUL, returns with ALL WE HAVE LEFT, a touching book surrounding the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

It’s September 11, 2001, and all 16-year-old Alia dreams about is attending a selective art program at NYU. Her dreams, however, are crushed after her parents ground her for being caught holding a joint in the school bathroom. Alia desperately wants to tell her mother that the drug wasn’t hers, but she refuses to give Alia a chance to redeem herself. Since her mom won’t listen, Alia decides to confront her dad at his job in the North Tower, hoping to have him change his mind.

"ALL WE HAVE LEFT doesn’t just give out the facts [about 9/11]...but gives perspective to what the attacks were like for people in the buildings and how others suffered from the aftershocks."

In the elevator on the way to her dad’s office, Alia meets Travis, a boy a little older than her. After preventing him from pick-pocketing a janitor, they meet again in the elevators after Alia’s unsuccessful attempt to talk to her dad. Suddenly, everything goes dark and the elevator drops. It becomes a fight for survival as Alia and Travis try to make their way out of the demolishing building alive.

In the present day, 16-year-old Jesse is what some might call a "lost cause." Her dad is constantly angry over the death of Travis, Jesse’s older brother who died 15 years prior. Catching the attention of a mysterious classmate, Jesse falls into the wrong crowd and neglects her friends. Soon, she is caught spray-painting the side of the Islam Peace Center. As a punishment, Jesse is given the community service of volunteering at the building, where she meets Sabeen, a young Muslim girl, and her brother, Adam.

Since her family refuses to speak about Travis, Jesse enlists in the help of her friends and 9/11 survivor, Anne Jonna, to discover the truth behind her brother’s death. Their search leads them to a girl named Alia, whose voice was heard on the last voice message Travis left for his family. Jesse makes it her mission to find Alia and learn the truth of what happened 15 years prior.

ALL WE HAVE LEFT isn’t the type of book I’d normally read. I’m sensitive when it comes to books regarding distressing events that have happened in history. Of course we all remember 9/11, and if you were a baby like me, we learned about it in class. ALL WE HAVE LEFT doesn’t just give out the facts that we all know, like how many casualties there were, how many survived, etc., but gives perspective to what the attacks were like for people in the buildings and how others suffered from the aftershocks.

I love how ALL WE HAVE LEFT acknowledges different ethnicities and religions. Whenever I read that book that does incorporate some type of religion, it's always Christianity. Having one of the main characters be Muslim helps give insight into a different culture and their beliefs and customs.

I recommend ALL WE HAVE LEFT to everyone to read. Even if you normally don’t read historical fiction books, this one will give you a different and very important take on the events that unfolded on September 11, 2001.

Reviewed by Asia H., Teen Board Member on August 15, 2016

All We Have Left
by Wendy Mills