I received Day of Days by Frank Napolitano back in the fall and did a spotlight on it on social media. I read it over the past week and it was so good. It basically destroyed me, but it was good.
The novel follows fictional men who are all firefighters for the NYFD during the months leading up to 9/11 and follows them on the day of as well. While they are all fictional characters, you can’t help but think while reading that their stories could be the same as any number of firefighters during that time period. Men who work long hours and have kids and a wife at home to support. Veteran firefighters who are now managing multiple firehouses and playing more of an administrative, political role. Young men who are just starting out on the job and trying to prove their worth to the rest of their firehouse. Young men who have been on the job for a few years and are meeting the love of their lives during the spring and summer of 2001.
If you are old enough to have been alive during 9/11, it’s one of those events that you’ll always remember where you were when it happened. I remember I was walking into biology class and the news footage was playing on the classroom tv that was in the top corner of the room. Everyone was freaking out and confused about what was going on. If you don’t know, I live in NJ so a lot of our parents, family, friends, etc. lived and/or worked in the city. My dad worked in the city and actually used to take the train into the World Trade Center. But that day he had missed the normal train he would take which would have arrived there around the time of the first crash. I remember him telling me that he watched the towers going down from the rooftop of his office building. The phones weren’t working, but he did eventually get home to New Jersey that night. I don’t remember how since I don’t think any trains were running.
But, back to the novel. I have to admit that I’ve never really given a lot of thought into the many jobs of firefighters. It’s just not something I’ve thought about. I never even considered that they all have different roles for example someone has the job of being an outside vent man which means they ventilate the fire from the outside i.e. breaking windows etc. There’s also someone who cuts open the roof to vent out the fire. I can’t remember if this is the same as the outside vent man. There’s also a difference between a truck company and engine company. Anyway, the point is I didn’t know a lot and the novel really opened my eyes.
I grew very attached to all the characters, especially the ones with love stories, and Napolitano did an amazing job of creating these characters that while not perfect were so likable and realistic. That being said, it took me a little longer to finish reading this book because I could only read small chunks at a time despite being so hooked on the stories of these characters. I was really nervous and scared that these characters would die in the end during 9/11. And with recent events going on in the country (I’m still pretty upset about the Uvalde shooting especially being a teacher and a generally good human being) this was a tough, emotional read. I thought about putting this book on hold and reading lighter books (I am currently reading a romcom at the same time so that helped) but I just loved the book so much that I had to continue just at a slower pace.
I won’t sugarcoat it, the book really broke my heart, but it is so worth the read. Just know going in that it’s going to be emotional.
*This book was sent to me complimentary, but all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.*