All We Have Left

All We Have Left
Written by Wendy Mills

Publisher’s Summary:
Sixteen-year-old Jesse is used to living with the echoes of the past. Her older brother died in the September 11th attacks, and her dad since has filled their home with anger and grief. When Jesse gets caught up with the wrong crowd, one momentary hate-fueled decision turns her life upside down. The only way to make amends is to face the past, starting Jesse on a journey that will reveal the truth about how her brother died.

In 2001, sixteen-year-old Alia is proud to be Muslim . . . it’s being a teenager that she finds difficult. After being grounded for a stupid mistake, Alia decides to confront her father at his Manhattan office, putting her in danger she never could have imagined. When the planes collide into the Twin Towers, Alia is trapped inside one of the buildings. In the final hours, she meets a boy who will change everything for her as the flames rage around them . . .

Interweaving stories from past and present, All We Have Left brings one of the most important days in our recent history to life, showing that love and hope will always triumph.

Primary Source Pairing:
For many educators, the date September 11 evokes memories of 2001 and witnessing the terror of the attacks on the United States that day. For the majority of our students, the date has only a historical context. All We Have Left bridges the gap between a day educators remember and a day students have read about. The alternating and interviewing narratives in the book give readers the opportunity to experience the uncertainty and fear Americans felt on the September 11 and during the days, months, and years that followed. For this primary source analysis, invite students to study a photograph by American photographer Carol M. Highsmith showing the Twin Towers in the New York skyline. This photograph was taken two months before the Twin Towers fell on September 11. 2001.

For additional primary source resources, visit the September 11, 2001, Documentary Project on the Library of Congress website. This collection features a unique and diverse set of primary sources including artwork, handwritten documents, interviews, and photographs.

Questions for Discussion:

  • What do you notice first?
  • What objects are shown?
  • How are they arranged?
  • What is the physical setting?
  • How is this photograph different than what you would see in a photograph taken today?
  • Why is this photograph important?
  • What can you learn from studying this photograph?
  • Make a connection to what you see in this photograph to something you read in the book All We Have Left.

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
“Aerial view of New York City, with the World Trade Center Twin Towers prominent” photograph taken by Carol M. Highsmith: Library of Congress