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Book Review

This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the sixth book in the “I Survived” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Eleven-year-old Lucas Calley has loved playing football ever since Dad’s friend Uncle Benny introduced him to the sport. Lucas’ parents support their son’s athletic endeavors until he sustains concussions. When his parents learn about the many deaths caused by repeated concussions, they decide Lucas should quit the team. Lucas is upset, but he’s sure Uncle Benny can convince Mom and Dad to change their minds. Lucas skips school one day in September and takes the train to New York City to enlist Uncle Benny’s help.

Like Dad, Benny is a firefighter. After Dad was badly burned in a fire, Benny helped looked after the family. Dad’s skin still bears the scars from his injuries, but Lucas is most concerned about Dad’s emotional wounds. He and his father were once very close. Now Dad seems distant, as if he’s caught in the past.

When Lucas arrives at Benny’s fire station in New York City, Benny is surprised to see him. To Lucas’ dismay, Benny agrees with Mom and Dad that Lucas should stop playing football before it kills him. As they’re talking, Lucas and Benny see a jet flying much too low. Moments later, it crashes into one of the World Trade Center towers.

Benny and his crew spring into action. Benny orders Lucas to wait at the fire station, because Lucas’ dad is on the way with his firefighting team. Lucas tries to call his parents while watching the smoke, dust and chaos in the streets. When he can’t reach them, he tries to make himself useful by cleaning the firehouse kitchen. From a news report, he learns that the other tower of the World Trade Center has been hit as well. He tries to process the reporter’s suggestion that someone may have purposely crashed these planes as an attack on the United States.

Lucas walks through the smoky streets, which remind him of pictures he’s seen of World War II. Stunned, horrified people are exiting buildings or being treated by medical professionals. He heads for the place where the firefighters were supposed to meet and manages to find Dad. He and Dad help injured and stranded people on the ground as the towers begin to collapse. Lucas and Dad get out of the main area of danger, and Lucas realizes that things will never be the same.

A few months later, Lucas helps coach a football team of little kids. Two of the players lost their dads in the September 11 attacks. Even though Lucas no longer plays football, some of his old teammates have come to support him as a coach. Uncle Benny, still nursing injuries he sustained while rescuing victims, arrives to watch the game. Lucas still feels the pain of the things he saw on September 11 but realizes that time will help him once again have good days like this.

Christian Beliefs

Lucas prays as he waits in the firehouse for his dad.

Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Lucas’ dad is a firefighter. Father and son were very close until Dad was badly burned and emotionally scarred in a horrible fire. After September 11, they begin to rebuild their relationship. Lucas’ loving mother is active in his life. Dad’s best friend, Uncle Benny, helped Lucas develop a love of football. He is a supportive family friend, particularly after Dad’s accident. He’s also a brave firefighter.


Someone shouts the Lord’s name in vain after seeing a plane crash into one of the towers. Many people on the streets of New York City are injured and dust-covered after planes crash into the towers. The scene reminds Lucas of pictures he’s seen of World War II. Police, paramedics and firefighters tend to numerous harmed and disoriented citizens. While the images are disturbing, the descriptions are not gory or graphic.



Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Disobedience: Without telling his parents, Lucas skips school to go to New York City and see Uncle Benny.

The author includes historical information about the 9/11 attacks. She shares that she personally learned about the attacks while flying on a plane from London to New York that day. Her plane was rerouted back to London.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

10 to 12


Lauren Tarshis






Record Label



Scholastic Inc.


On Video

Year Published





We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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