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What did you love best about Between Heaven and Ground Zero?
Hearing the intensity, the emotion and the power of the author's voice as she read her own words conveyed the feeling and immenseness of this woman's struggle to survive and to come to terms with the tragedy and find meaning. Her spiritual growth was evident and it felt real and empowering to me to hear it as she healed and found her way out of the trauma of victimhood.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Between Heaven and Ground Zero?
The poem she read 10-0 was poignant and powerful, conveying the anxiety, the fear, the intensity and the tragedy as I myself relived viewing this travesty on TV that fateful September 11th, 2001 morning.
What about Leslie Haskin’s performance did you like?
I loved her voice, her accent, both Eastern and African American. I loved the power of her words and the emotion filled punctuation of the book on tape--no one could have read it and brought it to life better than the author herself!
If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?
I love the title itself, which really says it all!
Any additional comments?
It was a bit distracting to have the scripture verses interrupting the story--spoken in an English accent, was a bit hard to take. perhaps it was the dialectic of the opposite between American and Foreign, between African/American and Caucasian English. It makes sense to read scripture, since it is a spiritual awakening, however, I didn't see the connection between some of the biblical quotes and the message she was telling. All in all, however, it was a powerful, pointed and extraordinarily courageous account of Leslies spiritual, emotional and mental journey from tragedy to triumph. I applaud her strength, courage and wisdom!
This is a book that wears two coats.
One is compelling, horrific, vividly told. It's the story of one woman's experience of being in the World Trade Centre on 9/11. It's dark, it's told in its completeness, it omits nothing. Leslie Haskin makes you feel as if you too were there, even though you don't want to be, among the disintegrating buildings and exploding flesh. She re-tells every second of her journey to work that day, the impact, and the endless journey down from the 35th floor to the ground. She tells it with total honesty, and plumbs the very depth of her being, and how her life changed forever.
The other is the story of Haskin's religious conversion, a direct result of what happened on that fateful day. For her, as a result of 9/11, her life not only changed completely but - in her perfect hindsight - was an inevitability. It's uncomfortable to live with, because on the one hand you feel that she is perfectly entitled to her conversion, having lived through something beyond even the nightmares of other people. But it often comes across as a sermon, and somehow seeks to remove the stain of 9/11 through one person's subsequent spiritual odyssey. Again, there's a discomfort here. It feels insulting to criticise, just as it would be to criticise a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust if they had written in similar vein.
However, she ends the book by translating her own spiritual journey to a generalisation about End-times and the Rapture, in which she believes. At this point most readers will breathe a sigh of relief, all discomfort flown, and see that what started as one kind of horror story, ends as a religious horror story.
If you listen only to the first two thirds of this book, it will be an unforgettable experience. If you listen to the whole thing, you will end in the church of your childhood, the one your parents may have taken to, and from which you couldn't get out fast enough.
Two additional notes. One: Haskin reads this with great emphasis, as if she is trying to convert you through the very way she speaks, like a preacher. It brings the first section of the book to life effectively, but it becomes tiresome when she moves into 'preacher' mode. Two: all the Biblical readings (and there are many!!) are read by a computer voice. Bizarre, or what?
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