Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The Day the World Came to Town by Jim Defede

I read The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim Defede as an e-book, which means I shocked myself because not long before I'd read Mexican Gothic electronically, as well. You know how I abhor e-books, right? Two in a row? Gasp! That's not likely to happen again, soon, although I am trying to read at least one per month. We'll see how that works out.

The Day the World Came to Town is the story of what happened when American airspace closed after the twin towers were hit, why Gander was chosen as the place to land a large number of planes, how the landing was handled and locals coordinated the effort to care for their huge influx of visitors, and what became of the various planeloads of people in the short and long run, along with a few of their stories. 

The Day the World Came to Town is not particularly well written but I liked it for the stories of kindness and the sense of community, including the way the "Newfies" embraced their guests and went out of their way to provide for their individual needs (like Kosher food for a small group when someone realized they were Orthodox Jews and noticed they weren't eating at all). For a few days, nobody cared about status, country of origin, skin color, etc. It made me want to move to Newfoundland, to be honest. What lovely people and so generous. 

The hard part of the reading was the losses described; and, if you were around on 9/11, it really takes you back to the memories and the emotion. I got teary a lot. 

Recommended - The Day the World Came to Town is slightly dated because it was written soon after 9/11 but it's still a good read. I chose to read it specifically because I'd heard it was an uplifting story and we were on the verge of the presidential election, as I was reading. I needed the escape and it didn't need to be perfect to fit the bill. 

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  1. I remember very clearly that day- I was in college, standing in my apartment, and heard it on the news- disbelief at first, then shock, then fear- school was closed for days and everyone was tense. I never thought about what happened to the planes that were en-route and couldn't land, where the people went. I'm glad the country was so generous to welcome all those travellers and take them in for a while. It's good to hear stories of people doing kindness in these times.

    1. Yes, it's one of those days that stands out vividly in my memories, too. I was driving to the park to go for a run and my husband had left the radio on in my car. The hosts of whatever program was on were joking about the first plane, thinking it had been a small private plane and that "maybe it left an outline, like when Bugs Bunny runs into a wall," at first. Then, the second plane hit and the tone immediately turned to horror and talk of terrorists. I turned my car around and went home to turn on the TV.

      I'd heard about Gander, long ago, but it took me a while to get my mitts on this book. There are several others about the planes that landed in Gander, I've just discovered. It's a pretty amazing story. And, yes, we really need to hear about kindness in this crazy moment.


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