Author: Geoffrey Girard
Pub. Date: 8/1/2017
Genre: Young Adult
Katie Wallace has never given much thought to 9/11. She was only a year old when terrorists struck American soil. But now her dad has landed in a mental institution after claiming to know what really happened. He insists the attacks were part of a government conspiracy. And he claims that Katie is living proof: the lone survivor of a massive cover-up. Hoping to free her dad, Katie sets out to investigate his bizarre claims. Soon she’s drawn into the strange and secretive world of 9/11 conspiracy theorists known as the Truthers. What is fact and what is fiction? Katie no longer knows what to believe.
My Review: 4.5/5
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started to read this book. All I knew going in was it was about the travesty of 9/11 and a possible cover-up. This book took me by surprise…a great surprise!
I am going to start of by saying I am a proud American. I’m a born and raised citizen, who has the utmost confidence in the country and those who run it. I proudly wave the American Flag and the 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays.
This book is about Katie, who tries to untangle the babble from her dad who has just been confined to a mental institution. He mutters ‘they killed them all’. She soon learns he is referring to 9/11 and starts her own investigation of the real truth that occurred on that day. Her research leads her to one conspiracy theory to the next. Was the government behind it? Were certain Americans aware the tragedy was going to happen?
I have to admit, I never looked into or have even ever heard of any conspiracies around 9/11. Call me naive, but I believe it is the evil work of terrorists. This book left me speechless and questioning. It is very thought-provoking. The author did an excellent job bringing light to a taboo subject in the telling of a fiction story. I applaud him for challenging my way of thinking. Great book, and one I recommend…especially if you want to be challenged.
***Thank you to the author and publisher for my advanced copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.
They killed her. Killed all of them.
This is what her father said.
Half a dozen times that she could remember. When he was very tired. And high.
They killed her. Killed all of them. I’m sorry.
He’d said it again two nights before they took him away.
The police car that pulled up to her house that night didn’t
surprise or alarm Katie.
It wasn’t the first time; neighbors could be so nosy. She’d even seen her father arrested once (misdemeanor marijuana). But this night, there were two police cars. And a specially- marked SHERIFF’S OFFICE car.
And now a black car and a weird yellow van pulling up her driveway.
Her immediate guess was that her father was dead. Reek- ing of pot and/or beer and wrapped around some telephone pole. Or, worse and more likely, smashed into an SUV filled with some family who’d been racing on the tangled pathways of destiny toward this unhappy man for years. It finally happened, she thought.
And now, all these cars. All these people. Huddled in small circles up and down her driveway. People talking. Pointing. Organizing to fully include her in today’s tragedy.
Katie stepped back from the window, the world quiet and still as she deliberated how to behave when they officially told her. Cry? Scream? Act surprised? She felt too disconnected from herself for real thought. Her brain unexpectedly empty, This-Space-for-Rent, entirely without the solutions that always came.
Finally, a knock at the door. Thank God, she thought. Because a knock was a sound and sound was something real and hinted at next steps. At least a next step.
She opened her front door slowly and a tall shadow filled the space behind.
“Kaitlyn Wallace?” the tall shadow asked.
She managed only a nod. It was as if Death himself had come to her door. Dropping by to explain all the complexities of the universe. She almost found the idea funny and might even have laughed if she weren’t also so terrified.
Death leaned forward and, of course, became a man. Round face, gray goatee. No scythe or glistening black eye sockets. But a leather folder and a black baseball cap that said SHER- IFF. “Sheriff Mathieson,” he confirmed and asked if he could come in. More shadows hovered directly behind him. There was some discussion regarding whether she was a Kaitlyn or a Kate or et cetera, and she may have answered but wasn’t really listening yet. Merely staring.
Outside, the nasty rainstorm that’d swept through had passed, its gloom and dankness trailing after. Some cops stood posted in her driveway. A half dozen neighbors confirmed their nosiness, their faces flush and hellish in the lone red light
revolving slowly atop one of the police cars.
The sheriff had entered her house, and then a half dozen other equally tall dark shapes—several men in suits, another cop, and a woman in plain clothes—followed him in and crowded her hallway as Katie was led to her living room. Already a guest in her own home.
“This is Gloria Dorsey,” the sheriff said, introducing the woman. She was middle-aged, dressed like a modish school teacher, and had short, jagged blonde hair. She looked eager to take over. “Ms. Dorsey is—”
“Is he dead?” Katie asked. She also wanted to take over, but still felt weirdly apart from her own words and movements.
The sheriff sighed, almost chuckled. “Oh, little lady, no, no. No.”
“Your dad is fine,” the Dorsey woman said. She’d taken a spot beside Katie on the couch, though Katie had no recollec- tion of even sitting. Struggling for the reaction to the idea her dad was still alive proved as elusive as what she might do if he were dead. “He’s perfectly fine. We should have told you that right away.” The woman shot a look at the sheriff and his whole face tightened some.
Katie asked, “Is he in jail?”
“He’s at a hospital,” the sheriff replied. “Ventworth.”
She’d never heard of it. Behind the sheriff, the others scur- ried around her house. Around it, through it, over it. Doing what, she had no clue. The cop had stayed back in the front hallway. And one man . . . This guy she’d not noticed before, now stood off to the side, in the entrance to the kitchen, watch- ing. Watching her. And while all the others moved in a sort of intense frenzy, this guy looked perfectly calm. Chewing gum, even. Almost amused. Smiling?
“I don’t understand,” Katie said, looking away. Reality returning fast now, pursuing something they’d said. “You said he was fine. So why is he at the hospital?”
The sheriff and the Dorsey woman shared a look. “There was an incident at work,” Dorsey explained.
Work? Her dad was a maintenance-groundskeeper type for Park Services: cutting out honeysuckle, putting in new picnic tables, etc. What kind of incident would he—
“The doctors believe your father had a panic attack of some kind,” said Dorsey.
“Nervous breakdown,” the sheriff amended.
So, nothing to do with the honeysuckle. Of course not . . .
Katie thought about some of the things her dad had said to her recently. Stranger than usual, even. And, because it was tricky to separate them all, she also thought about some of the things he’d said for years. A “breakdown”? His whole damn life had been a breakdown.
“They don’t know for sure what it was,” Dorsey said, inter- rupting Katie’s racing thoughts. “But he’s going to spend at least tonight at the hospital.” Pause. “Maybe longer. And he was worried about you here alone.”
Katie made a face, calling Dorsey’s lie. She’d spent most of her life alone in the house—this one and all the others before— while her father was off fishing or holed up in some nasty bar after work or God-knows-what. He wouldn’t give one shit if she spent another night alone.
“We were worried,” Dorsey corrected and then presented her most professional I-know-what-you’re-going-through face before her next words: “You’re a minor, Katie.”
Finally, Katie realized what was going on.
Her dad was already at some hospital. They hadn’t come for him.
They’d come for her.
There was no known next-of-kin.
No grandparents or aunts or second cousins. No one. Only her dad. A.k.a.: the man imprisoned in some psychiatric hospi- tal called Ventsomething.
So the Dorsey woman helped Katie collect her schoolbag and fill a county-supplied gym bag (said BUTLER COUNTY SOCIAL SERVICES right on the side) with some clothes, then led her to the weird yellowy van. The sheriff followed.
Katie had gone on autopilot again. She had little memory of stepping outside or moving down the rain-stained driveway with Dorsey or getting into the van. She sat alone in the middle row of seats, while Dorsey shut the side door and then got in to drive. The night still swirling red. Neighbors still watching. Mrs. Lindhorst and Gary the Grouch. Their stares.
As the van pulled away with her in it, she noticed all the lights in her house were still on, the front door wide open, strange men still within.
“I want to see my father,” Katie said. “Soon,” Dorsey replied from up front. But she was lying.
Katie spent that first night with total strangers called
The Claypools lived all the way across town. The Clay- pools had two other foster kids. “Other” being the key descrip- tive word here, the implication being that she was now a third. The Claypools were goddamned do-gooders.
“My cell number is on the back,” Dorsey explained, giving Katie a business card. They stood in the do-gooders’ kitchen. There were ceramic roosters everywhere. Mr. and Mrs. Clay- pool hovered anxiously out in the front hallway, waiting to get on with saving the world one kid at a time. Their “other foster kids” reportedly were in their rooms and sound asleep. At one in the morning, it was just the roosters.
“What about school?” Katie asked Dorsey, and her own voice sounded too far away. “How will I—”
“You’ll take tomorrow off. I’ll handle it with the school.”
Katie imagined what Gianna and Alexis would say when she didn’t show. Or her teachers. How could the school keep any of this quiet? It might be on the news. Her dad’s arrest and picture on TV. On the Internet. The “crazy guy.” Her house and the flashing lights. Katie Wallace being led to a yellow van like some kind of criminal. How would Dorsey even begin to explain tonight?
“Oh my God!” Katie’s hands went to her mouth. “Winter! I left . . . our cat, Winter. I wasn’t even . . . How could I?”
“Hey.” Dorsey touched her shoulder. “It’s been a stressful night. Winter will understand. Tomorrow, we can—”
“Can she stay here?”
A quick glance toward the Claypools out in the hall. Ner- vous smile. “We’ll see. For now, I could—”
“Never mind,” Katie snapped, quickly solving this new problem herself. Something she was quite used to. “It’s fine. One of my friends will watch her. I’m sure of it.”
Dorsey breathed outward in genuine relief. “Perfect. We’ll take care of that tomorrow, okay? I’ll be back first thing.” She stepped closer and hugged Katie briefly, like a coach after giv- ing a participation trophy. “It’s all going to be okay.”
Katie stood frozen. Unable, unwilling, to move or reply. Convinced that tomorrow was only going to get worse.
Dorsey was gone.
With careful and short words, Mrs. Claypool showed Katie to her new room. Each girl—Thank. You. God.—had her own. There was a freshly-made bed and an empty dresser for her things and a lame painting of a girl riding a horse. Katie may have cursed under her breath, but Mrs. Claypool pretended not to notice. There was a small shelf of books. There was a bag with a new toothbrush and toothpaste. There was a stale can- produced lavender smell to everything.
Throughout the settling-in routine, Mrs. Claypool did about as well as someone could, given the situation. She was kind and supportive and practical about it all. Here is This and Here is That. And If This and If That. All with the same
reassuring smile and energy the Dorsey woman had hoped to convey with her reassuring smiles and energy. Katie was both astounded and sickened that Gloria Dorsey, a woman she’d met less than four hours ago, was now actually missed and somehow so much better than this even stranger stranger.
“Good night, Katie,” Mrs. Claypool said finally and gently, and equally gently shut the door. “Try and get some sleep.”
But Katie didn’t sleep at all that first night. She didn’t cry either.
Sleep and crying came later.
That first night was all about hate.
Her father was a child. A monster? For sure an asshole.
The constant pot-smoking, the rambling talk, the long bouts of depression. These had been only a private irritation before. A tolerable cross to bear. He’d merely stained her life. Not yet ruined it. But this? This was different.
This was not eating alone. Or dealing with some past- due utility bill because he’d let them pile up again. This was not odd looks from neighbors, friends’ parents, teachers. This was not having to stamp out another cigarette when he fell asleep. Or cramming in earbuds to help ignore his stoner mumblings.
This was real-life stuff now. Very direct and very real consequences. This was being packed up and shipped off in front of everyone like some freak. Spending the night in a stranger’s house. Staring up at the painting of some stupid girl on some stupid fucking horse. Her life uprooted. A “ward of the state.” Practically an orphan. Something out of a Charles Dickens novel.
And so, all that first night, she hated him. And wished that she’d been right.
That the police had come to tell her he was dead.
The man was looking for one thing more.
“Sir, we already checked those.”
He simply lifted a hand and the others left him, heading for the front door while he casually opened more cabinets.
Their job was done here. They’d found nothing in the house. But this wasn’t a surprise. The work location had also turned up empty. Here, they’d discovered only a couple of guns (all properly licensed) and a single file folder of old news clip- pings (all on the usual suspects and subjects). The lone desktop computer they’d seized had nothing of value; looked like the daughter used it mostly. This guy, unsurprisingly, clearly used other online avenues. No flash drives found. No smartphones. Nothing. The girl had an archaic iPod, which she’d taken with her, but they’d first quickly copied its contents and found only groups he’d never heard of.
His team waited in the front hallway. It’d been a long night for all of them. He leaned over to open another cabinet. Finally found what he’d been looking for.
The man emptied the whole bag of Meow Mix into a large salad bowl and laid it on the kitchen floor. He’d already filled the water dish and opened the toilet lid. The white-haired cat weaved around his feet and he squatted down to scratch its neck. It purred in thanks. The man stood to leave.
“Good luck, soldier,” he said.
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