Review of The Memory of Things

The Memory of Things
by Gae Polisner
High School    St. Martin’s Griffin    275 pp.
9/16    978-1-250-09552-7    $18.99    g
e-book ed.  978-1-250-09553-4    $9.99

It’s the morning of September 11, 2001, in Manhattan, and the first tower has just fallen. Sixteen-year-old Brooklynite Kyle, fleeing toward home, stumbles upon a teenage girl wearing a pair of costume wings who, it turns out, has severe amnesia. He’s drawn to her — “She looks sweet and lost. She looks pretty. And scared” — and promptly takes her home with him to try to help figure out who she is. He already has enough to worry about — his dad is a police officer involved in the rescue effort, his mom and younger sister are supposed to be flying home from L.A., and his uncle, paralyzed in an earlier accident that broke his spine, needs dedicated care — not to mention Kyle’s anxiety surrounding the unknown (Who attacked the towers? Will there be more attacks?) and the lack of reliable communication during the disaster. The mysterious girl’s free-verse narration (much of which takes place inside her head) is interspersed with Kyle’s prose. This is effective at times, but at other times the verse feels flat: “I don’t have a glass of water. / I listen for the shower, but / it’s already off, / so / I can’t go get one now.” While the conclusion is a little too pat and rushed, the blend of mystery, burgeoning romance (between Kyle and the girl), and historical elements has appeal to a wide variety of readers and makes this a solid contribution to the growing body of 9/11 YA fiction.

From the November/December 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Kazia Berkley-Cramer
Kazia Berkley-Cramer is a former editorial intern at The Horn Book.

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