The Memory of Things - Gae Polisner

On the morning of September 11, 2001, sixteen-year-old Kyle Donohue watches the first twin tower come down from the window of Stuyvesant High School. Moments later, terrified and fleeing home to safety across the Brooklyn Bridge, he stumbles across a girl perched in the shadows, covered in ash, and wearing a pair of costume wings. With his mother and sister in California and unable to reach his father, a NYC detective likely on his way to the disaster, Kyle makes the split-second decision to bring the girl home. What follows is their story, told in alternating points of view, as Kyle tries to unravel the mystery of the girl so he can return her to her family. But what if the girl has forgotten everything, even her own name? And what if the more Kyle gets to know her, the less he wants her to go home? The Memory of Things tells a stunning story of friendship and first love and of carrying on with our day-to-day living in the midst of world-changing tragedy and unforgettable pain—it tells a story of hope.

This story was a gorgeous tribute to 9/11 and a really sweet tale of a developing friendship between two teens surviving trauma.

 

I thought Polisner did an excellent job of detailing the tragedy, and it meant a lot to me simply because I was too young at the time to really appreciate the gravity of the event. I think this book can be valuable to many teens and young adults today simply for the historical context and the way she so aptly recreates the events.

 

The girl's sections were all written in poetry, which threatened to quickly turn me off as I need to be in a certain mindset in order to be reading lyrical prose; however, the sections were short enough that they weren't disturbing and served only to shed some mystique on her and give an entirely different picture of how a mind might work after a tragedy.

 

I loved that Polisner included a lot about Uganda and the events there, because it really is so easy in our Western-centric media to forget many of the terrible events happening elsewhere. Kyle's friend had come to the US as a child from Uganda and I found it subtle yet powerful how Kyle thought about his background as the story went on.

 

I additionally loved that Kyle's uncle was suffering from paralysis, and had gone from living a completely ordinary life and being quite a hero to needing someone to aid him with the most menial of tasks. This really demonstrated how life goes on even after a tragedy and was really powerful in showing how Kyle hated that his uncle had to go through his own personal tragedy.

 

This was gorgeously written. I think it's a topic that needs exploring and for that a story as such could be done aptly by many; however, Polisner has written this extraordinarily and had me feeling all of the emotions.

 

This story was definitely a tale of hope and despite the tears I really loved reading it.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.