The story of the startling disclosure of a 9/11 survivor who wasn’t actually there.
Fisher (Narrative Journalism/Rutgers Univ.; After the Fire, 2008, etc.) and filmmaker Guglielmo team up to bring readers a page-turning account of Tania Head, a survivor of the World Trade Center attacks. Vivid details place readers at the scene of 9/11 during and after the attacks, which may be painful reading for some readers. Injured when one of the planes struck the 78th-floor sky lobby of the South Tower, Head not only survived this near-death experience but also bore the tragedy of losing her new husband in the collapse of the North Tower. She rose to acclaim in the years after 9/11 by starting the World Trade Center Survivors’ Network, where guilt-laden men and women could openly voice their distress about the events of that day. Head also helped lead the campaign to save the Survivor Stairway, “thirty-seven steps that had once connected the plaza outside the towers to the street below,” which was used by hundreds fleeing the buildings on 9/11. However, as the narrative progresses, readers begin to see small discrepancies in Head’s story, along with her terrible mood swings and violent physical reactions to reliving that fateful day. Under extreme pressure to conduct an interview with the New York Times in 2007, Head broke down, and her elaborate and fake story fully emerged. She soon disappeared. Members of the Survivors’ Network were left to wonder why someone would go to such lengths to gain notoriety, especially when it involved so many who had survived real damage on that day.
A disquieting retelling of 9/11 by one survivor with a surprising twist.