Excerpt from All We Have Left by Wendy Mills, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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All We Have Left

by Wendy Mills

All We Have Left by Wendy Mills X
All We Have Left by Wendy Mills
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Aug 2016, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2017, 368 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Bradley Sides

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Print Excerpt


2001
Alia

Travis draws my face into his chest as the smoke engulfs us.

The other tower fell, it fell straight down like a waterfall of concrete and steel, and, oh God, please help me, because is this one going to fall too?

Travis tightens his arms around me, shielding me as parts of the ceiling fall. It doesn't feel like it will ever end, and I hold on to him with all my strength.

Eventually the terrible roaring, clanking noises subside, and Travis unwinds his arms. I sit up, coughing and spitting. The smoke has begun to clear, and I can make out the corner of the desk, and then the chair, and then bookcases farther away as the smoke continues to spiral out the window. I rub my eyes with the palms of my hands, and Travis coughs, his forehead on his knees.

"No, no, no, no, no," I keep saying, but I'm not sure if I'm saying it out loud or if it's in my head. I feel numb, and somehow unattached from myself, as if my mind has floated free like a balloon.

There's Alia in her favorite yellow shirt, sitting next to a boy with mismatched eyes who reaches for her hand because she looks like she is going to shake apart, just fall into a million pieces.

The smoke above us swirls slowly out the broken windows. We are hundreds of feet in the air, and as much as I wish I could just fly out the window, I'm not a superhero, and the only way I'm going to survive is to get up and walk down hundreds of steps.

Gramps always used to say that they would never fall," Travis says, but he's not really talking to me.

I remember when I was a kid writing notes to God and hiding them around the house, little things like Please let Nenek get better soon and If it's your will, I would like those pink shoes with sequins for Eid. If I could, I would write a thousand, a million, notes to God right now saying, Please, please, God, let us get out of this office alive, and hide them in drawers, under the mouse pad, inside the pages of the splashy brochure flapping wildly on the desk.

Travis starts crawling across the floor, pulling me with him. He is leaving tracks of blood on the floor, and when I glance down at my hands, I see my palms are speckled with glass. I don't feel any pain.

"We need to get out," Travis says. "If the other tower fell, this one could too."

I crawl faster, trying to keep my head below the smoke, but it's still so thick that I have to stop every couple of seconds to cough. Travis reaches up to a desk and grabs a vase. He yanks out the flowers and, before I can protest, puts a hand to my hijab.

"What—? No!" I grab the ends of the scarf and clutch it to my head.

"You need to wrap it around your face so you can breathe," he says hoarsely. I shake my head back and forth, tears spilling down my cheeks.

It seems forever ago that I put it on, even though it was only a few hours ago. I'd give anything to go back to earlier this morning when my biggest worry was what to wear, before planes started crashing into towers, and entire buildings dropped out of the sky.

Without speaking, Travis lets go of the scarf and dumps the water at the bottom of the vase over the front of my shirt.

"Pull it up over your face, then," he says, his voice husky with smoke. "Come on. We're going to get out of here alive, okay? We're going to make it."

2016
Jesse

The car comes closer, and I dig my feet and fingers into the crumbling brick wall and freeze. A stupid voice in my head whispers, If you don't move, they can't see you.

The car continues down the road, and, holy crap, maybe Nick is right. Maybe we are invisible. People see what they want to see, and it's not a girl hanging on the side of a building at two in the morning.

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Excerpted from All We Have Left by Wendy Mills. Copyright © 2016 by Wendy Mills. Excerpted by permission of Bloomsbury USA. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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