69 pages • 2 hours readWendy Mills
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Symbols & Motifs
Chapter Summaries & Analyses
This section of the book opens in a flashback depicting an interaction between Alia and Travis, who have met on random errands that placed them both in an elevator as the World Trade Center Towers are attacked. Alia recounts, in present tense, the fact that Travis protects her by “[…] draw[ing] my face into his chest” (1). She describes the terror- and smoke-filled conditions that precede their attempts to escape from the burning Tower. Travis attempts to remove Alia’s hijab for the purpose of protecting her nose from the ash and dust; however, she resists. She uses her wet shirt in order to cover her face as the two attempt to escape.
The younger sister of the late Travis, seventeen years his junior, appears first in 2016. She recounts the terror that she experiences while she and her current boyfriend, Nick (accompanied by his brother, Dave, and Dave’s companion, Halie) graffiti messages on local buildings. Jesse is an accomplished rock climber, adept at dealing with extreme heights. She writes the word “Nothing” (6) on the side of a local building, in an apparent nod to the existentialist sense of meaninglessness that she and Nick share.