About the Book:
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 book is so beautiful and moving; it really is a gorgeous story of hope. I was intrigued to know how a young adult novel about such an atrocity would work but Gae Polisner gets it just right. She never shies away from the terror and the fear of that day but the focus on Kyle and his family allows feelings to be explored whilst still leaving the reader with a sense of hope.
I love the way this novel was told in normal prose from Kyle’s perspective and then this is interspersed with poetry that represents the confused thoughts of the ash-covered girl Kyle brings home from the bridge. It gives a rounded sense to the story but it never becomes cliched.
Gae Polisner explores so many angles of 9/11 – the way it affected people who witnessed the horror, the way the emergency services responded, the way it felt for people who couldn’t get through to family members, and also how it felt for the people, like Kyle’s uncle, who desperately wanted to respond and help but couldn’t due to medical problems.
I would recommend this book to everyone, it’s not just for teenagers – it’s a beautiful book that will explore the horror but leave you with hope for the future.
I received this book from St. Martin’s Griffin/St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.