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Picture yourself, for a moment, among 243 passengers on a Boeing jumbo jet. It is two days before Christmas of 1988, and you are excited to see your family in New York. You are sitting comfortably in your coach class window seat in row 40, reading a poetry book by Charles Baudelaire. It’s 7:00 pm and about 35 minutes after takeoff; the plane is just leveling off at its cruising altitude. You hear the captain throttle back the engines now. Everything is perfect in this aircraft; in fact, it’s not really an aircraft at all. It’s more like a room than a metal tube; a room with perfectly vertical walls. By now, most people have actually forgotten that they are, in fact, inside an airplane. They are in a movie theater, a bar, or even their own home relaxing in their favorite recliner. Suddenly, you hear a loud noise from the front of the plane. You feel extreme pressure on every square inch of your body, like you have been hit by a train. Screams and shrieks fill the cabin, and then, very abruptly, everything ends, forever. This is precisely what happened to David Dornstein before he fell, already dead, 6 miles to the ground in Ella Ramsden’s front yard, the landing site for about 60 other individuals when the plane exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland.
The Boy Who Fell out of the Sky by Ken Dornstein is a true story about David Dornstein’s life and how his brother Ken searches through his numerous letters, manuscripts, notebooks, and journals and interviews the friends of David to find out all that he can about his brother’s short life of only 25 years. Along the way, Ken finds out about some very sensitive subjects and horrible things that have happened to David. He also explores David’s past relationships and tries to combine everything together to create a documentation of David’s life so he can move on and live life without David’s interfering with his. The story also describes Ken Dornstein’s life after his brother dies and the paths he chooses to take to escape the enormous pressure of the death.
The Boy Who Fell out of the Sky is a non-fiction piece of work and is considered a biography. The subject deals with the life story of the author’s brother and how the author was immersed in it fully after his brother died.
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“The plot of one of David’s fictions comes to mind: A man has written the story of his life, but someone breaks into his office and rips the book apart, sentence by sentence, scattering the pieces across the city. Some sentences are stuffed inside fortune cookies, some are rewritten as graffiti on walls, some have been tucked into books on library shelves. And the man spends the rest of his life searching for the missing pieces. If I were to try to finish this story for David, I’d look for a way to make the man realize that whatever he has lost isn’t worth spending the rest of his life trying to recover, for that wouldn’t be much of a life at all” (Dornstein 353).
After reading this book, I am, overall, very impressed with it. The author’s language is very clear and descriptive, but not too descriptive. Dornstein uses very good diction and syntax. He also uses many excerpts from letters and conversations he has had with the friends of his brother. I particularly like how the author related the theme of the story with a short story David wrote. The book is very interesting and well written, although some readers may find that the author switches time periods and characters too frequently, moving from Ken’s life to David’s, then on to David’s past, and so on. Other than that, I do not think that anyone would have a problem with the author’s writing styles or habits, as he is a very good writer.
Mr. Dornstein gets most of his sources of information from David’s notebooks. David writes many stories in his notebook that directly relate to his own life, but using different names. Also, the author uses interviews with previous girlfriends and friends as well as classmates to come up with other topics on David’s life. From what the author describes in the book, these interviews are recorded and every little detail of the interview is written down, or later, video recorded. These sources of information are very reliable.
The author is extremely qualified to write the story as he is the brother of main character in the book, David Dornstein. Ken Dornstein has had a very strong connection with his brother, allowing him tell the reader all of the facts and information in the same manner that his brother would describe them. The book is based on many personal experiences, but mostly, as stated previously, on David’s letters and notebooks, which really captures the emotion of the story very well. As far as audiences go, the general audience for this book would be teenagers and possibly adults. The story moves around a lot, so teenagers might not be able to grasp the information as consistently as adults, but it is in no way unreadable for teenagers. The topics covered in the story are intended for multiple audiences, teens and adults alike.
The author integrates several black and white pictures into the book which allow the reader to visualize some details about the characters and certain topics that come up in the story. Also, the author includes a section in the back of the book that includes notes on the origin of the title, information on sources, some “Last Things,” information on the author, and finally, information on the prosecution and sentencing of the terrorists who planted the bomb.
Once again, I think that this book is very good, and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in people and how they think, overall. This book depicts many different emotions and different mindsets on various things, but I also think that I would recommend this book for the casual reader too. If I were you, I would go and pick up a copy of this book before the movie is released in 2009, so you can really immerse yourself in this moving story.