Blanche’s Book Club: ‘The Only Plane in the Sky’.

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Greetings! I made a promise to myself that I’d go to bed at a decent hour last night so I could get some rest and start the week with a fresh mind, and I’m feeling it 🙂

I have a few positive things on the planner for the week (in terms of my job hunt), so that makes me feel hopeful.

But, I have a book to discuss!

It’s “The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11” by Garrett M. Graff.

I’ll be totally honest, before reading this, I wasn’t 100% sure what “oral history” meant. But, this book is a compilation of that day from hundreds of different people’s perspectives.

It’s less about factual accuracy and more about looking at the events on September 11, 2001 from the viewpoint of many people who experienced it.

I’m sure we’ve all heard people say, “Everyone has a story about where they were…” For some, they’ve got a story about where they were when they heard JFK was shot. Others have a story about 9/11 or when they heard Michael Jackson died.

I’ll never forget hearing about the Oklahoma City Bombing (I was in second grade) or about Columbine (I was in 7th grade). I also have lots of memories watching the OJ Simpson police chase and the trial afterward.

This book is lots of different memories from September 11, 2001. Some of those recollections are from people who were at the airport, on the attacked planes, 911 operators, members of the military, family members from those who were on hijacked planes, people who worked in the Twin Towers, police officers, fire fighters, teachers, students, business owners…

The book approaches it from a minute-by-minute perspective, which made it easier to keep track of what was happening.

At the start of each section, the author inserts a few sentences about the events of the moment, which I found helpful.

Some of the storylines continue throughout the entirety of the book, while others do not — you can assume why.

I was a junior in high school when the attacks on September 11 occurred. I was too young to understand much of it; of course I knew it was horrible and sad, but I didn’t have any idea about terrorism.

As I’ve grown older, I’m more educated on it, and have a better understanding about the events that day. In 2018, I visited New York City for the first time. My first stop was the 9/11 museum and memorial.

Seeing these two landmarks — plus the new Freedom Tower — added another layer of perspective to the attacks. I have much, much more respect and empathy for every person that was affected that day, and for the City of New York.

Having been in the area of the towers, this book put me right back there, only on such a dark day — I feel like I now have yet another layer of understanding.

This book really taught me a lot about that day. But, there were some things in there that are horrifying. Some of the things people saw. Some of the things inside the building. The cleanup efforts. The rescuing.

It’s a lot, and because of that, this book may not be for everyone.

I would read a few sections and then take a break to watch something light on TV (usually “Bob’s Burgers”) and then pick it back up again. I truly hope that everyone who survived the attack was given the opportunity to get mental healthcare. I cannot imagine the long-term trauma from that day.

I marked one quote in the book that I’ll share with you:

One of the fireman from rescue 1 looked up and said, ‘we may not live through today.’ we looked at each other, and we said, ‘you’re right.’ we took the time to shake each other’s hands and wish each other good luck and ‘hope i’ll see you later,’ which is especially poignant for me because we all had that acknowledgment that this might be our last day on earth and we went to work anyway.

If you’re someone interested in learning more about that day or are a major history buff, I would definitely recommend this book. Just make sure you practice self-care during and after the read… my personal advice!

I’m glad I read this book, even though I was a little nervous to — I knew parts of it would likely be difficult to read. Have you read books like that?

For more book recommendations, be sure to subscribe to the blog (look to the right) and follow me on Goodreads @thebitterlemon – where I share more of my book picks. Also, check out my printable bookmarks and Book Club Journal Pages in my Etsy Shop

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