- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Touchstone (April 3, 2012)
- ISBN-10: 1451652089
- Source: Publisher
After the tragic events of 9/11, those who survived the terrorist attack sought out others in attempts to seek solace and understanding for the feelings they were experiencing. One of the women who played an active role in the creation and direction of the World Trade Survivors’ Network was Tania Head, a young woman who escaped the carnage of the seventy-eighth-floor sky lobby of the south tower. In addition to losing her fiance in the other tower, Tania suffered serious burns and injuries. Her retelling of the experience gave other survivors the courage to step forward themselves and thus begin the healing process.
As one of the leaders and advocates for the 9/11 survivors, she was key in saving the “Survivor Stairway” one of the few remaining pieces of the then demolished buildings, as well as providing survivors the opportunity to tour the grounds of the WTC reconstruction. However, as time continued, as Tania became more prevalent in the press, questions were raised about her retelling of the tragic events of 9/11. When a New York Times reporter attempts to contact Tania to get answers to some of these questions, Tania would cancel scheduled meetings and interviews. She refused to answer even elementary questions about that day.
Eventually, the truth was revealed. Not only was Tania not a survivor of 9/11, she wasn’t even in the city that day. She didn’t have a fiance who perished in the attack, either. The survivors who relied on her for strength had to undergo yet another period of grief, as if the woman they looked up to for so many years had perished herself.
In The Woman Who Wasn’t There: The True Story of an Incredible Deception, Angelo J. Guglielmo, Jr a film-maker and once friend of Tania Head, shares the unbelievable story of this individual’s desperate attempts for attention and acclaim after an event that rocked out country. It reads like a thriller, seeming to be unbelievable, for how could a woman manipulate those individuals already suffering so tremendously into believing she was one of them?
Once I started this book, I couldn’t stop. I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, unable to stop until I finished it. Afterward, I desperately sought to find out why Tania Head would do such a deplorable thing? I found a great deal about this case online. I found myself surprised that I haven’t heard of this story earlier but honestly, so many stories popped up around this time about fake charities and the like I probably glossed over the story.
While the obvious feeling to experience after reading a story like this would be hatred or anger. That said, after I pondered the story over the weekend, there was a happy ending to this story. Despite all the horrible things Tania did, she was able to give hundreds of 9/11 survivors the strength and the confidence to heal, gave them a voice in the construction of the memorial, a voice thus far unheard.
It could be said that this book is once again giving Tania Head undeserved attention and praise, but I implore you to look beyond the story of this woman who betrayed hundreds and instead look at the progress these survivors have made over the years. This is a book that I encourage many to read; those directly affected by the 9/11 terrorist attacks may find it too overwhelming to read but I do still encourage them to give it a chance. For ultimately, while there is a great deal of betrayal portrayed, there is a constant glimmer of hope, a glimmer that helped the victims of this tragedy rise up and begin to heal again. Highly recommended.