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The Memory of Things

Review

The Memory of Things

THE MEMORY OF THINGS is Gae Polisner’s most recent novel. Polisner is also the author of YA novels THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO and THE PULL OF GRAVITY. THE MEMORY OF THINGS begins on the morning of September 11th, 2001. The main character, 16-year-old Kyle Donohue, watches a plane hit the first Twin Tower from his high school’s window. On his way back to his home in Brooklyn, he discovers a girl on the Brooklyn Bridge. Kyle prevents this mysterious girl from committing suicide and decides to bring her back home with him in the wake of the tragedy. THE MEMORY OF THINGS follows Kyle as he unravels the mystery of the girl and learns to deal with the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks.

I was only a year old when the terrorist attacks occurred so THE MEMORY OF THINGS was an interesting perspective on the events for me specifically. It was interesting to read about the events from the point of view of someone who is my age now. I felt that the story was realistic and most likely relatable for anyone who has a clearer memory of that day. I could feel the emotions through the characters and the utter devastation that the city faced during the aftermath.

"Gae Polisner is able to capture the raw emotion of the events as well as the lives of the people most directly affected by them. She weaves this into the span of a few days through the eyes of a relatable and realistic 16-year-old boy."

I really enjoyed the characters and watching how the attack affected their relationships. Kyle was brought closer to his family. He gained a stronger sense of responsibility and definitely experienced drastic growth due to the tragedy. This is seen through Kyle’s relationship with his Uncle Matt and how he steps in to take care of him. I loved Uncle Matt as a character. Polisner did a great job of portraying his disability and how his disability does not shape his personality. Kyle’s changing relationship with his father was also a great addition to the plot. They grew closer in the wake of tragedy and formed a more personal connection than what they seemed to have before.

However I did have one problem with the relationships portrayed in this novel. The romance between Kyle and the mystery girl, Hannah, seemed a little unnecessary to the theme of the novel as a whole. Although the romance was a nice light hearted addition to the plot, it distracted a little too much from the actual events and tragedy. Hannah’s character however was a great addition to the plot. The mystery of discovering who she was kept the book interesting and the plot moving forward. The plot was somewhat slow, especially in the beginning. But, Hannah’s story did help with keeping the plot in motion. I think it just would have been a little more true to the portrayal of the tragedy if the romance wasn’t pushed between her and Kyle.

I would definitely recommend THE MEMORY OF THINGS to anyone who was interested in a new perspective on the September 11th terrorist attacks. Especially anyone who is like me and does not remember living through them. Gae Polisner is able to capture the raw emotion of the events as well as the lives of the people most directly affected by them. She weaves this into the span of a few days through the eyes of a relatable and realistic 16-year-old boy.

Reviewed by Danielle F., Teen Board Member on September 13, 2017

The Memory of Things
by Gae Polisner