The Ambassador of Nowhere Texas -- New Middle Grades Novel Set in 9/11 Era


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Can you believe this September it will be twenty years since 9/11? Life was so different twenty years ago. Many homes did not have a computer. Internet was dial up for the most part. And I am guessing you probably remember where you were when you heard the news of the planes going into the twin towers. I know I remember exactly. Do you remember the days after how quiet it was without any planes in the air? I remember looking at coworker as we heard planes flying above our school--it was in the airpath of the military planes. Living outside of Boston where the flights began meant many meaningful stories about that day as well as loss. Today I am sharing a new middle grade book that is set in the era of 9/11. It is The Ambassador of Nowhere Texas by Kimberly Willis Holt. I did not realize until today that it is the second book in a series. 

In this book we meet Rylee Wilson. She and Twig have been best friends since second grade. Rylee is the shy, quiet one and Twig is the extravert and daring one. They live in the Panhandle of Texas. Twig is going to Spain with her grandmother at the end of the summer and into the new school year so Rylee has to face the start of seventh grade without her best friend. The day before Twig is suppose to fly back 9/11 happens. Similar to across the country the world changes. People feel different about life. Flags fly at half mast. Twig eventually returns but doesn't seem interested in being with Rylee. The old house who's resident passed away is no longer for sale. Rumor has it the woman it was left to decided to move there from New York. No one knows anything about her. She shows up with her son who is around Rylee's age. He is angry and obviously doesn't think much of Antler, Texas. Rylee offers to show him around and the two become friends. Slowly the town discovers why Joe and his mother escaped to Texas. Joe and Rylee bond over a mystery. The woman who passed away left photographs to almost everyone and her father received one of a large teenage boy from his past. Her father says his name is Zachary Beaver and he was part of a sideshow that passed through town during his youth one summer. He and his friend Cal became friends with Zachary but they hadn't stayed in touch. Joe pushes Rylee to find out what happened to Zachary. Together they begin to research him. Rylee also begins to find the confidence she always lacked and begins to become her own person.

I love this book. It is about friendships and growing up. It is about the tragedy the world felt on 9/11/2001. It is about finding old friends and lasting friendships. It is about change. It is truly about life. I found it very easy to read and enjoyable. I wanted to know what would happen next. I felt for Rylee as Twig pushed her away. There are sad moments and happy moments throughout the book. It also has some great lessons on true friendship and being a good friend. I can really see middle grade readers loving this book. I actually want to look up the first one to read it now. It is about Rylee's father and the summer of Zachary Beaver.