4* Review: 96 Hours – Georgia Beers

Despite being 10.5 years post publication, 96 Hours still packs a punch.

The age old question – ‘What would you do?’ still irrepressibly thought provoking. The subject matter as tragic and heart wrenching as ever.

I was pleasantly surprised to find this book stocked in my local library, albeit in its non-public depths and with a tacky ‘LGBT’ label stuck to the front of it. Which i still can’t decide whether in years gone by, said label would have served as a crucial identifier to LGBT+ folks or a warning to everyone else, who god forbid would have ended up with a beautiful book focused on two women loving women characters.

But i digress.

96 Hours is an exploration of action and reaction in the face of human tragedy. We all know the darkness of 9/11, but the author offers a twist in the telling of that day, one which i am sure would have been replicated in real life the world over.

As flights are grounded in the wake of a terrorist attack on American soil, Erica and Abby find themselves thrown together in Gander, Newfoundland. With no idea how long they’ll be grounded, the pair embark on an emotional journey, depicting the far reaching ramifications of that horrific day; the shock and incomprehension, the numbness of waiting, the kindness shown by complete strangers. In short the building blocks of humanity.

Whilst i didn’t fall in love with the main characters, i did fall for the story as whole. It is a beautiful depiction of what can be achieved when people come together, the support that can be found, the friendships that are made. The author provides a variety of supporting characters, each of whom has a different backstory and hence exhibits a different response to what’s unfolding.

96 Hours is narrow in its focus, almost one-dimensional. But it has to be.

I genuinely felt that the author wanted readers to feel the rawness of this story, to not be swept up in the intricacies of a detailed plot, but instead just to feel and to be reminded of that horrendous day. To be inspired by the compassion of strangers and to wonder if we’d all be strong enough to step up in someone else’s time of need.

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