Review: The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner

 Pages: 288
Published: 6th September 2016
Received eBook VIA Netgalley for honest review.


The powerful story of two teenagers finding friendship, comfort, and first love in the days following 9/11 as their fractured city tries to put itself back together.

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. She is covered in ash and wearing a pair of costume wings. With his mother and sister in California and unable to reach his father, a New York City 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.


Everyone around the world remembers when and where they where the day of 9/11. For me, I was 12 years old and I was in my high school in Northern Ireland at a afterschool club and the teachers told us what had happened. It was shocking, hard for a 12 year old to understand what was really happening at first. In Gae Polisner's, A Memory of things we are witnessing the struggles, unity and grief of the tragedy though the eyes of 16 year old Kyle. The opening scenes throw you straight into the nightmare of Kyle trying to get out of New York after the planes hit the towers where he meets a girl on the Brooklyn Bridge covered in ash and wearing Angel wings seemingly disoriented and confused. From there the story begins. We follow Kyle and the girl who can't remember who she is over the coming days after the tragedy.

The story is a coming of age story of a young boy who's lost and feeling like he isn't living up to his families standard's to a boy who shows hope, strength and love though a terrible time, coping with looking after his disabled uncle, the angel winged girl and worrying about his family. His mum and sister who are across the country to his police service father down at ground zero trying to rescue the thousands of people from the rubble. 

I really enjoyed this story it definitely isn't my type of story, and I struggle with male POV's but this story felt so real and authentic and the author did an amazing job of displaying the feelings of the people of New York during that time. It is a character driven story that is made possible though a strong lead in Kyle. 

Finally I enjoyed the overall mystery of who the angel winged girl was and her story of grief and forgiveness amongst tragedy and its a book that will stay with me. As the author said it is not a 9/11 story but a coming of age story, of resilience and hope, of humans ultimately pulling together not just for themselves but others. A story that happens around the world daily.

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