I heard Jennifer Senior talking to one of the NPR hosts one day about this short story. It drew me in, and I wanted to read the whole thing. This was a short essay, but the characters (who are real people) were very well described and I felt like I was interacting with them.
The main story is about Bobby McIlvaine, who worked in one of the twin towers and died in the September 11th attacks. Bobby had written journals starting in his childhood, up until a few days before his death. Bobby’s parents got his journals and his dad offered the most recent one to his fiancé. It started a little bit of a feud, because Bobby’s mom desperately wanted to read the latest journal. There was so much in the newest journal about Bobby’s love for his fiancé.
Bobby’s dad went fully into conspiracy theories about September 11th. Anyone he talked to heard about his theories. It was his own (albeit different) way of dealing with his grief. Bobby’s mom felt better by consoling other grieving families. His fiancé was devastated for years, but eventually started her own family. She still has the journal.
It was really interesting because the author knew Bobby. He was her brother’s roommate, so she was around when the news came out that he was in the towers. I’ve never read anything else of hers, but I felt like her connection with Bobby made her reporting a little more personal and heartfelt. This is a very short “book”, but I definitely recommend it.