The Day the World Came to Town

Book Review ~ The Day the World Came to Town by Jim DeFede

Here’s my book review for The Day the World Came to Town by Jim DeFede.

I think like most of us, I remember where I was on September 11, 2001.  I was hosting playgroup at our house.  About 10 one-year olds and their moms were on their way over to our house.  I remember we sat in horror watching the towers crash down as our toddlers played happily around us.  It was very surreal! I wound up turning the TV off so we could focus on our kids. It was too scary and horrific to sit and watch anymore.  When I picked up The Day the World Came to Town all those thoughts and memories came flooding back!

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Summary ~ The Day the World Came to Town

From Amazon: “When 38 jetliners bound for the United States were forced to land at Gander International Airport in Canada by the closing of U.S. airspace on September 11, the population of this small town on Newfoundland Island swelled from 10,300 to nearly 17,000. The citizens of Gander met the stranded passengers with an overwhelming display of friendship and goodwill.”

This book shares the story of how this small community, Gander, opened their arms, their homes, their pocketbooks, but even more ~ their hearts.  This is a beautiful story about the kindness of strangers.


My Thoughts

When I picked up The Day the World Came to Town I wasn’t sure if I could read an account of September 11.  But this story, while it is about September 11, it is focused on a different story from that day. This book shares an incredible story of a small community not just taking in, but embracing just over 6,000 stranded passengers.  Passengers from all over the world.  Some trying to get home from time overseas and some coming into the United States for business or vacation.  All walks of life – business leaders, students, parents going home with their newly adopted baby, and even royalty. And, the amazing part of this story is that they were all embraced and loved on for 4 days.

This book pulled me in on a number of levels.

The personal stories

The personal stories of so many people, all affected in one way or another by the terror attacks in New York, Washington DC and Pennsylvania. I read about a couple (actually two) who had just adopted a baby from Eastern Europe and just wanted to get home with their baby. And, about the couple who’s son was a first responder and they didn’t know if he was alive or not. And about the corporate executive from a huge fashion company who enjoyed the warmth and compassion that isn’t a normal part of his life.

All these lives converge unexpected and with consequences. The consequences are lives that are forever entangled!

The technical and organizational aspect

The technical and organizational aspects of housing, feed and caring for 6,000 people! It was a well organized effort.  There were so many people and organizations involved, but everyone seemed to pitch in where needed!

The selfless acts of kindness

The townspeople went into this with no expectation of gaining anything. Their only goal was to take care of the “plane people.” Their lives were completely turned upside down for these few days, too! They let complete strangers into their cars, their homes and their lives. Some of the passengers affected by this selflessness responded in kind. One of the planes set up a scholarship fund for the towns kids’ to be able to go to college. One gave the local high school all new computers and money to one of the local churches.

I’m sure there are so many more stories that weren’t told, but are just as impactful!

Do I Recommend?

So, do I recommend The Day the World Came to Town by Jim DeFede?  Short answer – Yes!  This is one of the most beautiful books I’ve read this year. I highly recommend this book, especially if you are in need of a dose of humanity at it’s finest!

One of the more beautiful aspects of this story is the juxtaposition of the horrors happening in New York City and realizing just how evil some humans can be, versus the care, concern and friendship shown to these strangers stranded in a strange town in a strange country!

It is an easy read, it only took me a couple of days to whip through it. But, you will be left thinking about these lives that were affected.

Book Review The Day the World Came to Town


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