September 11, 2001 marked a significant day in America’s history. It was a day that left an indelible mark on the collective minds of millions of people all around the world. Terrorism rose to new heights when nineteen al Qaeda hijackers took control of four separate commercial jets. The hijackers intentionally flew two of these planes into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center, the third into the Pentagon, and the fourth crashed into an open field in Western Pennsylvania following a heroic attempt of passengers trying to retake control of the aircraft. This was the largest terrorist attack on US soil and the loss of life reached close to 3000 souls.
This tragic story, while still in its infancy where American historians may be concerned, has been the subject of countless books and literary pieces from a multitude of sources. While the personal perspective pieces that have been written about September 11th are limitless, the actual account of a personal experience from someone who survived the collapse of the towers while still inside are few and far between. The amazing story of one such survivor, Genelle Guzman-McMillan, is a beacon of light in a long list of heart wrenching novels recording the events of this dark day in our history. It is a story that captures hope and inspiration in a seemingly hopeless situation. It is a true story of a second chance.
Angel in the Rubble is an autobiographical novel written by Genelle Guzman-McMillan, with William Croyal. Published on August 2, 2011 by Howard Books, this book is available in hardcover, audio, and electronic reader formats. The author’s personal account of that day and her life immediately following it is told eloquently in the first person, and grips the reader instantly in chapter one. Angel in the Rubble is a simply told story that is easy to read and vividly descriptive. This story allows readers to easily picture themselves in the author’s situation, and attempts to convey a message of faith and redemption.
The main subject of the story is Genelle Guzman-McMillam. Genelle was born and raised in Trinidad and came to the United States in 2000 with dreams of becoming a singer and dancer. Working for a temp-agency, she was able to secure a position for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in 2001, as an administrative assistant. The office in which she worked was located on the 64th floor of One World Trade Center, also known as the North Tower. Genelle Guzman-McMillan was the last known survivor pulled from the rubble after the collapse of the World Trade Center.
Angel in the Rubble begins by taking the reader through Genelle’s morning routine on September 11, 2001, her arrival to work that day, and introduction of her co-workers and friends. Very quickly the story progresses to her description and interpretation of what she felt and witnessed from her office at the time of the attacks. Genelle describes her and her co-workers reactions and thoughts during the initial confusion following the shudder and swaying of the building. She clearly illustrates the moment they see what is transpiring above them on television and the realization of the gravity of their situation. Genelle takes us straight through their descent down the stairs after the decision was finally made to evacuate, all the way to the unimaginable experience of terror she felt as the building collapsed on top of her and her co-workers.
This book does have a very strong religious current which may not be to everyone’s liking. One would need to approach this book with an open mind and perhaps let go of any religious opposition, or they may find themselves closed off to the unbelievable fact—Genelle did survive a high rise building collapsing on top of her. That fact alone is miraculous.
The message to have hope, believe in miracles, and trust in God is profoundly evident in this book. I believe Genelle Guzman-McMillan wrote this book to share her unique experience of survival and God’s grace with the world. Her book is meant to be uplifting to those who may be searching for answers and need reaffirmation that hope and humanity still exist, even on days like September 11th. The sub themes within the story are in place to encourage the reader to think about how they conduct their own lives and manage relationships.
Overall, I found this book to be an amazing story that I would suggest to anyone in search of inspiration. I agree with many of the reviews I read about this book and that it does instill a feeling of hope. Since I am a believer in angels and heaven sent messages, I embraced Genelle’s story wholeheartedly. In fact, the cover of the book Angel in the Rubble, spoke volumes to me…especially because the word angel was present in the title. Perhaps in this case it would be wise to judge a book by its cover. Angel in the Rubble was an uplifting story to read, and one that was very welcomed after learning so much about 9/11 during my studies at Wagner College.