A novel by Charles Deemer




LOVE AT GROUND ZERO is a short novel, a literary romance about two NYU students who meet in the towers on 9/11 when Wes rescues Hayaam before the south tower collapses. He is American, she a Muslim from Indonesia who is studying to become an American citizen.


They run into one another on campus after school starts again and begin having coffee together and taking walks. Romance blooms, despite their cultural differences. Their respective families do not approve.


When Hayaam's father flies from Jakarta to visit, he is arrested at the airport as a suspected terrorist. Although released after a few days, he feels humiliated. He removes Hayaam and her brother from the university to bring them back to Jakarta with him.


Hayaam does not want to leave America. Moreover, she decides Wes, with whom she is in love, is the man with whom she wants to lose her virginity. They spend her last night in America together, although their love affair is not consummated.


But Abdul, her brother, believes the worst has happened: she has slept out of wedlock with a non-Muslim. She has shamed the family. With their father's approval, Abdul cuts off Hayaam's long hair as an emblem of sin and shame.


More than ever, Hayaam is determined to stay in America. She comes up with a plan by which to do so, a scheme that is both shocking and dangerous -- and which leads to the novel's tragic ending.


LOVE AT GROUND ZERO is a romance in the tradition of Romeo & Juliet but one that is written in a style cognizant of the cynical, unromantic age in which it is told. It is a story about our dreams -- and the world of politics that infringes on them.