Justin is the son of Lianne and Keith. As the novel begins, he is seven years old and living alone with his mother. The young boy is obviously affected by his parents’ separation and by his father’s absence. He seems to take refuge in rituals and secret explanations for the ways of the world.

He is used to being around his grandmother, Nina, who also happens to be looking after him in her apartment on the day of the attacks, as his father unexpectedly turns up at Lianne’s doorstep. Justin is therefore spared the memory of seeing his father covered in blood and ashes. Nevertheless, 9/11 and his father’s experiences on that day come to have a great influence on Justin’s life and thoughts.

Resembles his father

Justin resembles his father in some ways. Lianne describes his outer appearance, as she watches him in his room: "He had pale hair, his father’s, and a certain somberness of body, a restraint, his own, that gave him an uncanny discipline in games, in physical play." (ll. 16-18, p. 39, ch. 4)[1]

Just like his father’s fondness of poker and its rituals, Justin has a fascination with collecting pens which he sharpens in a certain way which his mother describes as a ritual: "He’d rank and blow, rank and blow, a ritual more thorough and righteous than the formal signing of some document of state by eleven men with medals." (ll. 1-3, p. 39, ch. 4)

The myth of Bill Lawton

The events of 9/11 affect Justin greatly. He tries in his own way to cope with was has happened. Together with his two friends, the siblings Katie and...

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