The Woman Who Wasn’t There

cvr9781451652093_9781451652093_hrAuthors: Robin Gaby Fisher and Angelo J. Guglielmo Jr.
Genre: Non-fiction
The story behind Tania Head, the most infamous 9/11 survivor in the history of New York.

Even though I watched the documentary before reading the book, The Woman Who Wasn’t There was still compelling and interesting to read. Mostly because no matter how many times you hear a story like this, you’ll never stop being shocked that it actually happened.

The idea of anybody pretending to be a 9/11 survivor isn’t far fetched. Some people demand more attention than others and will do anything to get it. But to pretend to be 9/11 survivor, head up a survivor’s network, invent a marriage with a man who actually died, and carry on for over 5 years? It seems too calculatingly evil to not be straight from Lifetime movie.

Learning about all of the things Tania did before it was revealed she was a fraud actually made me conflicted. Tania did amazing things for the survivor’s network. Former friends and members cited that she was the reason that they found the will to live again. Her best friend at the time, Linda, even said the Tania represented the presence of God on 9/11 to her. She honestly saved a lot of people.

On the other hand, Tania used her position as the queen of suffering to bully and manipulate the other members of the network and the people she considered her friends. She even edged out one of the founding members of the survivor’s network because she thought he was being too intrusive.

People like Tania make me raise this question: If a bad action results in a good outcome, was it really bad at all? Did Tania’s lying, determination, and narcissism, justify the means? I don’t have an answer.

Nowadays, a con like this wouldn’t fly. The internet is just too all knowing. Her husband, her job, her tale could be fact checked in about an afternoon. I’m also not surprised no one cared to question Tania until the very end. From outside the survivor’s network, to question someone who claimed to be a 9/11 survivor so soon after it happened was insane. No one would be so terrible. People couldn’t comprehend it. From inside of the survivor’s network, to question Tania meant cutting your lifeline to salvation. Tania was their God. If she wanted you gone, you were gone. Your support, your friends, they would side with Tania.

The only thing that bothered me about the book was that it didn’t delve very deeply into Tania the person. The book read more like a long article about what she did, rather than who she was and why she would do it. It was minor, but that would have sent this book over the top.

All in all, a great book about a crazy situation. Would highly recommend.


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