I don't mean to minimize the horror the writer endured at all, but I thought the book was less about how he survived and more about how great he is for having survived it. I applaud his actions and his efforts to restore himself and his co-workers to some semblance of normalcy, but I would like to have read more about his experiences inside the towers, the fates of the people he escaped with, and yes, I'd like to know more about the friends he lost that day. I really wanted to read more about the people…I could've done without the poems and song lyrics he wrote.
TO THE AUTHOR:
If you read this review, please understand that I greatly respect you as a survivor who helped others to escape. God bless you always for that. But I only gave your book three stars because I also think it is important that the survivors who take the trouble to write these books tell us about the other people they were with who survived and how they're doing now, as well as about the friends and coworkers that were lost.
To most of us who watched on TV across the country, we suffered a loss too, but it was a loss of our fellow Americans, not the loss of friends and family we actually knew and loved. But I don't want to feel like I witnessed a mass murder on CNN and then just flipped to HBO to watch a movie. For those of us who witnessed this atrocity on TV, that's the danger for us. It's too easy to become desensitized to it as a TV event. Many of us have a need to connect personally with the survivors, the victims and their families without intruding on their grief. That's why these books are so important, and while it might seem a bit voyeuristic, it's really not. This didn't just happen to you. It happened to all of us and we have a right to know who, and what and where, when, how and most of all, why. These books are a record of a critical moment in our history. This happened to my country, to my fellow citizens…this happened to me. I watched as 2,997 people were murdered right before my eyes, and I don't ever want to forget it. I want to learn from it and understand it.
It's not enough to know that 2,997 people were lost or that 343 of them were firemen. Those are just statistics, and turning people into statistics makes it too easy to forget that each one was a life lost, a family devastated, a story that needs to be told, and that's too important to forget. I didn't have the pleasure of knowing these people personally, and yet I sat in front of my TV and witnessed their murder. I watched as they hung out of 100+ story windows gasping for for the last breaths of air they would ever breathe, as they threw themselves out of windows to escape the heat of burning jet fuel…I watched as they were ground to dust when the buildings fell, and I held my breath for days waiting for somebody, ANYBODY to be pulled out alive. And I mourned for them, unable to pay my respects at a funeral or send my condolences to the families. So the very least I can do is bear witness.
If you write other books, please remember that what you write today is the record of this important date in history that will shape the understanding of that day and period in time for the Americans of tomorrow. This happened the year before my son was born, and when they study 9/11 in his history class and he asks me if I remember that day, I want to be ready with more than just statistics. I want to tell him not only how I experienced it, but how it felt. I want to know who the victims were, how they lived and yes, I want to know how they died, just as I would want to know if the victims had been my own mother, father or husband or child. I would like to be able to tell him stories I read of the experiences of the survivors, as well as the stories told by the families and friends of those who died. But I want to know the victims as human beings, not statistics.
As a survivor who's chosen to write about this, that makes you responsible for their stories as well as your own. When I read books like this, I don't just want to know what you did, I want to know how you felt, and how you felt about the people who endured this with you. If you talk about the victims, I want to know them as real people, not as angels who never made mistakes, or cheated on their wives or their taxes, because too many of their stories have been whitewashed that way already. I want to connect with them as real people and know how they touched the life of the author, what made them unique and special, and why they were valuable and are so greatly missed. I want to know so I have a name to include in my prayers when I pray for them and their families.
If you write another book, tell me more about your buddy. Your poem was a nice tribute to him, but I wanted to find out more about who he was and why he was so special to you. You said you haven't grieved for the towers, but you wrote more about how much you loved the buildings than you did about how much you loved your friend.