Words are failing me. Everything I come up with seems inadequate to describe the events of this book and it occurs to me that if I'm finding words inadequate after experiencing this third-hand, I'd have had a nervous breakdown trying to thank anyone who was as kind and generous to me as the people of Gander were to all those stranded passengers.
I don't think I've ever in my life said to anyone "you have to read this!!" but I'll say it now - everyone should read this. Given the constant stream of evidence we get every single day of the dark things humanity rains down upon this earth, this book gives us a powerful glimpse into the pure unadulterated goodness humanity is capable of.
Every single page of this book was filled with examples of extraordinary kindnesses; things the people of Gander and the surrounding towns did that they didn't have to do; things that went above and beyond making sure those that were stranded were comfortable and had the necessities. Newfoundland is an economically repressed island trying to survive the death of the fishing industry, but they didn't hesitate to throw birthday parties for the kids, or set up a kosher kitchen (requiring all new pots and pans, mind you) for the Orthodox Jews stranded there. They gave away everything they had if it was needed, including camping equipment for those that didn't want to sleep inside the shelters.
I could go on and on but instead you should just read this book, or hell, if there's another book out there about Gander on 9/11, read that one instead, but either way, these people need to be the shining example of the standard all people should set for themselves, every day.
Prepare for a teary read, but in a good way. There are a couple of moments of profound sadness, but 99% of this book is all about goodness. Profound, tear-inducing goodness.
I didn't go the whole 5-star hog because the author is a journalist by trade and while he does a stunning job–truly–the overall narrative read like a really long newspaper article and that's just not my preferred style. Additionally there were too many missing words and editing errors to completely ignore. So subjectively, 4.5 stars, but objectively, 4.75.
P.S. I just bought this book in hardcover to keep on my shelves. If you'd be interested in receiving my paperback copy (very good condition) and don't mind waiting until my hardcopy arrives before I send it, then first person to say so in the comments will get it - no matter where you live.