Most Beautiful: A 9/11 Novel

Author: Burrows, Jennifer S.

Subjects: American History; 9/11; Growing Up

Age: 10, 11, 12

Grade: 5, 6, 7

ISBN: 978-0-89824-376-5

Order code: 3765

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Most Beautiful: A 9/11 Novel Cover

It is the summer of 2001. Ali Miller’s given name is Alikah, which means “most beautiful.” She hates her name because she feels that she is not beautiful at all. When she and her family move away from New York City, not only does Ali have to leave behind her best friend, but she also has to adjust to an unfamiliar life in the country—and no one seems to care.

The novel is told in the recognizable voice of an eleven-year-old, full of negative thoughts about moving to the country away from her friends, fearful about starting at a new school, beset with feelings of insecurity about her looks, and continually irritated by her younger siblings.

Ali starts school on September 5 and thinks that her teacher is tough, but she likes her. She has to start a journal at home and decides to write fake journal entries to try to catch her mom reading her journal. The first one doesn’t work, but Ali is sure that the second one will make her mother freak out.

On September 11, Ali’s mom shows up at school. Ali thinks that she must be in trouble because of her fake journal entry, but she soon finds out that two planes crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City, and she, like most people upon hearing the news, is devastated. Her father would have been working there if they had not moved away. After September 11, it is not only Ali who changes; her parents pay her more attention and focus on what really matters. Ali decides to stop feeling sorry for herself and to reinvent herself into someone who has changed on the inside, where true beauty resides.

The book captures in a sensitive, gentle, nonthreatening way the essence of the feelings that Americans shared after 9/11.

Jennifer S. Burrows is a former teacher with a bachelor’s degree from Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia, and a master’s degree in education from State University of New York in Brockport. Although she has written several books for children, this was her first middle-grade novel. Burrows was born and raised in western New York, and she now lives in the Rochester area. She is a member of the September 11th Education Trust, an organization that is striving to bring curriculum concerning September 11th into classrooms in New York state.

She says: “I developed the idea for this book as I watched the details of 9/11 unfold on TV. My own children were too young to understand what was happening at the time, and I felt that it was important to share the details with children in a way that wouldn’t be terrifying, gruesome, or political. This book is my way of doing that. I also wanted to capture the inner beauty I saw in people following these events. Inner beauty is a topic that I feel strongly about and would like to instill in children.”

Review:
"Most Beautiful is wonderful book, with a coming of age tone that draws readers to its sense of beauty within the struggle. Jennifer Burrows weaves hope throughout the story, helping her readers to see that indeed life can come from ashes." – Lacy Finn Borgo, author

It is the summer of 2001. Ali Miller’s given name is Alikah, which means “most beautiful.” She hates her name because she feels that she is not beautiful at all. When she and her family move away from New York City, not only does Ali have to leave behind her best friend, but she also has to adjust to an unfamiliar life in the country—and no one seems to care.

The novel is told in the recognizable voice of an eleven-year-old, full of negative thoughts about moving to the country away from her friends, fearful about starting at a new school, beset with feelings of insecurity about her looks, and continually irritated by her younger siblings.

Ali starts school on September 5 and thinks that her teacher is tough, but she likes her. She has to start a journal at home and decides to write fake journal entries to try to catch her mom reading her journal. The first one doesn’t work, but Ali is sure that the second one will make her mother freak out.

On September 11, Ali’s mom shows up at school. Ali thinks that she must be in trouble because of her fake journal entry, but she soon finds out that two planes crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City, and she, like most people upon hearing the news, is devastated. Her father would have been working there if they had not moved away. After September 11, it is not only Ali who changes; her parents pay her more attention and focus on what really matters. Ali decides to stop feeling sorry for herself and to reinvent herself into someone who has changed on the inside, where true beauty resides.

The book captures in a sensitive, gentle, nonthreatening way the essence of the feelings that Americans shared after 9/11.

Jennifer S. Burrows is a former teacher with a bachelor’s degree from Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia, and a master’s degree in education from State University of New York in Brockport. Although she has written several books for children, this was her first middle-grade novel. Burrows was born and raised in western New York, and she now lives in the Rochester area. She is a member of the September 11th Education Trust, an organization that is striving to bring curriculum concerning September 11th into classrooms in New York state.

She says: “I developed the idea for this book as I watched the details of 9/11 unfold on TV. My own children were too young to understand what was happening at the time, and I felt that it was important to share the details with children in a way that wouldn’t be terrifying, gruesome, or political. This book is my way of doing that. I also wanted to capture the inner beauty I saw in people following these events. Inner beauty is a topic that I feel strongly about and would like to instill in children.”

Review:
"Most Beautiful is wonderful book, with a coming of age tone that draws readers to its sense of beauty within the struggle. Jennifer Burrows weaves hope throughout the story, helping her readers to see that indeed life can come from ashes." – Lacy Finn Borgo, author

Most Beautiful: A 9/11 Novel Cover

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