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Award-winning author Mills to speak at library

January 10, 2018
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

This Saturday, Jan. 13, at 1 p.m,. Wendy Mills, a critically acclaimed local author, will discuss her latest book "All We Have Left," at the Pine Island Public Library.

"All We Have Left" is a moving portrayal of before and after the 9/11 attacks and the effects on two teenage girls: 16-year-old Jesse is used to living with echoes of the past her older brother Travis died in the attacks on the Twin Towers; and 16-year-old Alia, a proud Muslim who is trapped inside one of the towers.

"September 11 is a very significant date for those of us who were around in 2001," Mills said. "When my son asked me what Sept. 11th was all about, I decided to write the book for him and all those who were either too young to remember and those not born yet."

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Wendy Mills


In a recent press release, Mills said she has been 'sitting at a desk since I was 12 years old pounding out stories in my own happy little bubble.'

Mills wrote her first book at 12 - a 30-page tome called "Visitors from Meana," about aliens in the form of flying horses. After receiving positive reactions from her friends, she realized writing was what she wanted to do.

"After 'Visitors from Meana,'I never stopped," Mills said. "I tried my hand at poetry and a soap opera featuring my classmates that kept them entertained for half a year. I even wrote a few plays in the sixth grade that my class put on. By the time I graduated high school, I had written my first full-length mystery novel.

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"My first adult mystery was published at a very small press when I was 27," Mills said. "I probably should have waited and honed my craft a bit more, but it was the culmination of a dream I had had since I was 12.

"I had known at some gut level that words and books had the power to make people laugh, cry and think," Mills said. "'All We Have Left'' is for all who remember or want to learn about 9/11."

"All We Have Left" alternates chapters of the two stories between the two girls - Alia Susanto, a hijab-wearing Muslim and Jesse McLauren, while at the same time bridging the time gap of Alia in the World Trade Center in 2001 and Jesse in 2016.

The book opens with Jesse's older brother, 19-year-old Travis McLaurin, trapped in an elevator in the North Tower shortly after the South Tower falls. With him is 16-year-old Alia. Alia is gripped with fear, "If I could, I would write a thousand, a million, notes to God right now saying, 'Please, please, God, let us get out of this alive,'" Alia says.

The next chapter takes place 15 years later when Jesse is caught defacing the Islamic Peace Center with an Islamo-phobic slogan. For her penalty, Jesse is assigned community service at the Islamic Peace Center.

Jesse's journey to discover why Travis was in the Twin Towers leads to her search for the last person to see him alive Alia. Jesse's work at the Islamic Peace Center and the friends she makes there instill in Jesse a new understanding of Muslims and the Islamic faith.

"There are so many accounts of bravery in the towers ...," Wells wrote in the book's "Author's Note." "I wanted Alia and Travis' story to do justice to as many of them as possible."

The book has 4 stars on Amazon. One Amazon reviewer wrote: "The time gap, the religion gap, the hate gap and the love bridge make 'All We Have Left' grab onto your heart and your mind for a ride we all need to take. The character development, the settings and the faithfully accurate descriptions put you in the middle of a remarkable tour through meaning and life itself. Enjoy the trip, and get ready to be changed."

"All We Have Left" is a coming of age story that won the 2016 Florida Book Award and the 2016 Book Browse Award.

All are welcome to hear this talented local author on Jan 13 at the Pine Island Public Library, which is located 10700 Russell Road, just north of The Center.

Refreshments will be served.

Mills writes for both teens and adults. In her "spare time," she is president of Pine Island Little League and co-chair of the Pine island Elementary School PTA.



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