Book Review: Channel of Peace by Kevin Tuerff

I recently finished reading Channel of Peace: Stranded in Gander on 9/11 by Kevin Tuerff. Read on to find out a little more about the book, my thoughts, and whether or not I would recommend it.

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Stranded in Gander, Newfoundland

Kevin Tuerff was flying Paris to New York on September 11, 2001, when his flight, along with 37 others, was suddenly diverted to Gander, Newfoundland as US airspace shut down following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon. He became one of over 6,000 “come from aways” stranded in the small town of fewer than 10,000 people. 

Although the fear that more terrorists could be on other planes persisted, the town of Gander took on the challenge of welcoming the stranded passengers without a second thought. As planes began to land, the town immediately started preparing schools, community centres, and churches to house the “plane people.” The people of Gander came together and not only dealt with the overwhelming influx of people from all over the world to their small town, but they did everything in their power to make those passengers feel welcome and comfortable.

Channel of Peace: Stranded in Gander on 9/11 begins with a brief reflection on Tuerff’s experiences throughout the days leading up to September 11, the day of, and those memorable days spent in Gander. The focus of the book, however, is on how those experiences changed his life, rather than the experience itself.

Book Review of Channel of Peace: Stranded in Gander on 9/11 by Kevin Tuerff | kathleenhelen

Channel of Peace

Tuerff grew up with a firm belief in Catholicism but later struggled to consolidate that faith with his sexuality, especially following the publication of Letters to the Bishops on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons under Pope John Paul II in 1986. His experiences following 9/11 and the love he and the other passengers were shown by the people of Gander reignited his faith and helped to inspire an annual day of giving back or paying it forward.

The Pay it Forward 9/11 movement began at Tuerff’s PR company, where each year on the anniversary of September 11, he would divide his employees up into small teams, giving each team $100 and instructions to spend that money completing random acts of kindness towards strangers. The idea of the movement is to remember and honour the lives lost on 9/11 by spreading kindness to others.

My Thoughts on Channel of Peace: Stranded in Gander on 9/11

The book is a short, quick, feel-good read. It tells an amazing and inspiring story of the compassion and generosity of others in times of need. This book helps to show how small acts of love and kindness can inspire others and help to make the world a little brighter. It is a poignant and much-needed reminder in today’s world that a little generosity and compassion can have a significant effect. 

Kevin Tuerff’s story has been incorporated into the Tony Award-winning musical Come From Away (the soundtrack of which is fairly comprehensive and can be heard on Spotify). I talked about my love for the musical back in August, and you can read it here.

Again, this book really focuses on the way Tuerff’s life was changed by the experiences he faced in the aftermath of 9/11, and really only skims the surface of those actual experiences. If you’re interested in reading more about the experiences of some of the passengers stranded in Gander during that time, as well as the experiences of the town’s people, I recommend picking up The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim Defede.

I gave Channel of Peace: Stranded in Gander on 9/11 5 stars out of 5 on Goodreads.

Let me know your thoughts on this book and any recommendations you have in the comments below!

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