Amidst the shadows of the World Trade Center they had grown up the best of friends, full of hopes and dreams. Markie was the crazy, irresponsible one. All the boys were in love with beautiful Sally, but her heart belonged to Markie. Tom was the fixer, and they all knew they could count on him to help them out of a jam. Vicky and Tom had always been together. Jack, Tom's half-brother, had always lived life on the edge. Sensible and smart, Marian had a solid plan for her life, which, of course, included Jimmy. They called him Superman. Jimmy McCaffery was the hub of this circle of friends.
Life had always revolved around Jimmy. That is until one tragic night that changed everything for them all. 20 years later, James McCaffery, Captain of Ladder 62 Firehouse in New York City, died a hero saving people from the North Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001. His heroism subsequently became legendary at a time when devastated New Yorkers deparately needed heros. But then a series of articles in the New York Tribune newspaper called his character into question. Like a falling house of cards, the search for the truth about Jimmy McCaffery and what happened that night 20 years ago begins to destroy the lives of everyone involved.
Rozen does an excellent job of immersing the reader in the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy and its devestating effects on New Yorkers. Absent Friends bounces back and forth from NYC post-9/11 to episodes in the lives of the main characters as children. This gives the reader multiple perspectives on, and insight into the depth of their relationships as children and adults. The author unravels the mystery of Jimmy McCaffery with memories of remorse, regret and guilt as seen through the eyes of his old friends. In the end, a quote from Jose Latour at the beginning of the book rings loud and clear. "All I know is that the surest way to make enemies is to always tell the truth."