Review – The Memory of Things

The Memory of ThingsThe Memory of Things by Gae Polisner

Published September 6, 2016

St. Martin’s Griffin


My Rating – 4.5 Stars

I read “The Memory of Things” in one sitting. I was so intrigued by the story that I honestly couldn’t put it down. The writing was fantastic and I really found myself completely invested in the lives of the characters. The Memory of Things is such a fitting title.

The morning of September 11, 2001 starts out like any other school day for sixteen-year-old Kyle Donohue. That all changes when moments later he watches out the window as the first twin tower comes down after being hit by a plane. Leaving the school to get home to safety, Kyle comes across a girl his age on the Brooklyn Bridge. She’s wearing costume wings, is crouched down, hiding, and covered in ash. He’s about to continue on but something pulls him back. It takes time but as they hear another explosion he convinces her to come with him and they run.

He brings her to his apartment. His father is with the NYPD and Kyle knows he’s down there trying his best to help. He’s worried about him and also about his mother who is out-of-town with his sister. But his Uncle Matt is there, and he needs Kyle. The girl doesn’t seem to remember anything…not even her first name. Kyle wants to help her.


Kyle is scared but tries to be strong in front of the girl and his Uncle.He can’t get through to his dad or his mom. It’s hard not to panic when his calls won’t go through, but he realizes everyone is trying to get ahold of someone they love. I can’t even imagine how hearing those busy signals would feel. Not being able to speak with loved ones and wondering if something has happened to them, or if they are fine and the calls just aren’t coming through.

This was such a powerful story told in alternating points of view, both Kyle’s and the girl. We see the beginning of a friendship that grows through this horribly uncertain time. Kyle finds himself able to tell the girl things he hasn’t told anyone else. The girl feels that she can trust Kyle even though she can’t remember anything about who she is. Kyle wants to help her regain her memory but worries that when she finds herself he will lose her.

I think the author did a fantastic job of showing what the days following such a horrific time could have been like for some people, especially people living in New York. As the characters walk through the almost empty streets in the days following the attack, seeing a banner that states “WE ARE STILL STANDING”. Such an emotional read.

“The buildings are gone, thousands of people are gone, but somehow we’re still here. Standing.”

I was in the middle of another book when I picked this one up to read a couple of pages. I just wanted to get the feel of the story. However, once I started reading I couldn’t stop.

The author’s note was a great part of the book. Among other things, she tells how this story came to be. How she knew when the right time was to tell it. She wanted it to be a story about human resilience, where people keep going. Not necessarily a 9/11 story but a coming of age story about healing and love. A story about hope. I feel that she told the story she wanted to tell…in a wonderful and respectful way.

I’m so glad I read this story and I will definitely be looking for more from this author.

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and Gae Polisner for an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

View all my reviews


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