In Their Name (1995, Random House)
September 11th is this week and there will be remembrances, as is proper. Any death from terrorism is too many, and there were thousands killed on that date in 2001. The dead, their families, their friends, and those who contributed time and in some cases their health to the effort to rescue survivors and recover bodies deserve all of the attention which will come their way, and more.
This is also a good time to remember others who have fallen victim to callous, evil attacks. Whether they are recent victims like those at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh or the people trying to pump gas who were murdered by the D.C. snipers, terrorists have slain average people in attempts to bring their agendas to fruition. Lacking the national pain which was brought by 9/11, their stories risk being set aside by all save historians and personal acquaintances.
That’s the reason for this book. In Their Name was produced in 1995 for Project Recovery OKC. It provides a bit of a backstory on Oklahoma City, then dives into a full recounting of the bombing of the city’s Federal Building. It tells the story of the first responders and of the local heroes, of the survivors and the devastation delivered to the families of the dead and maimed. The book leans heavily upon photos, and that’s not a bad thing; photos are a good way to bring the reality of the moment home for a reader.
It also includes the names, and in all but six cases the photos, of each of the 168 victims along with a small caption about the person lost.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman (2002, Harper)
This one is special to me, for personal reasons. Even were it not so, the book would still be magnificent.
It’s a children’s book, and while it was written in 2002 it recalls the young adult stories of past eras. The villain is truly frightening, the heroine is outmatched in power but not in spirit or wit, the consequences of failure are truly dire, and the book is less than 200 pages long. The themes presented are fairly universal ones and the writing does not speak down to the pre-teens who are the target audience.
The story was begun by Gaiman for one of his children and completed for another. It follows the adventure of a young girl whose family has recently moved into a new house, only to become the target of a supernatural entity which lures children away from their families and steals their souls.
Coraline is given good reason to believe that her experiences in the other world are nothing more than bizarre, somewhat pleasant and somewhat disturbing dreams, but as the “other mother” closes her trap, the girl realizes that these things aren’t simply real, but that she’s in mortal danger… and that the three ghosts who have been trying to warn her need to be saved as well.
It was turned into a stop-motion movie with an entertaining Screen Rant video pointing out many rational flaws with the film; every one of them (save the disturbing imagery of the supernatural being) is exclusive to the movie, with the director creating new characters and minimizing the dream aspects.
As with most comparisons, the book is absolutely better and is strongly recommended.