This is a moving story by Dan Barry of the New York Times about Ann Nelson, a woman from Stanley, North Dakota, who became a bond trader and was in the World Trade Center on 9/11. Barry picked just the right approach for a story like this, holding off on letting us see Ann’s words that her mother found on her laptop, and stretching them out through the story. I grew up not far away from Stanley (Barry calls it a small town, but coming from a farm, it seemed like a big place to me when I was a kid), have good friends from there and at some point might have run into Ann’s family.
Barry’s story has some great authentic details that are hard to master if you aren’t from North Dakota, such as Ann’s pride in being born on Norwegian Constitution Day and her dream of returning to NoDak one day. When the story describes Ann’s mother reading about her daughter’s life goals, it brought to mind Dickens’ observation in A Tale of Two Cities about how little we know about the human heart, even of those closest to us. A wonderfully written story. Here is a link to a website memorializing Ann. Here’s another perspective about Barry’s story.