88 pages 2 hours read

Alan Gratz

Ground Zero

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2021

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Important Quotes

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“This is how we survive, right? Together. It’s you and me against the world.”

(Chapter 1, Page 4)

This mantra is what Brandon and his dad say to encourage each other. It is the foundation of Brandon’s motivation for the day’s tragic events: finding his dad. It is ironic because when Brandon’s dad says it, the terrorists have not yet attacked. Brandon and his dad are unaware that they will need to fight for their lives in the next hour.

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“Your actions have to have consequences. If they didn’t, you’d be the bully.”

(Chapter 1, Page 5)

Brandon’s dad says this to Brandon to explain why he thinks Brandon deserved to be suspended for punching Stuart. Even though Brandon punched Stuart to defend his friend, Brandon’s dad says that Brandon should still be punished for it because punching another person is wrong. If Brandon is violent, even in retaliation, then he is just as bad as the bully who started it all. Brandon thinks about this lesson at the end of the novel when he thinks about the US occupation of Afghanistan and says, “Maybe we’re the bullies” (301).

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“‘You always have a choice,’ the American told her. ‘You can pick our side, or their side.’

‘That’s no choice at all,’ Miriam told the sergeant. ‘If these villagers side with the Americans, the Taliban will kill them. And if they side with the Taliban, you and the ANA will kill them. You’re telling them to choose death!’”

(Chapter 4, Page 31)

The American, Taz, does not truly understand the situation the Afghan villagers are in. His thinking is black and white, and he believes that the villagers can choose whether to support the Americans or the Taliban.