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The Memory of Things

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  2,532 ratings  ·  648 reviews
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, ...more
Hardcover, 279 pages
Published September 6th 2016 by St. Martin's Griffin
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Karis Madison My main concern as a parent is the profanity. Kyle’s language is not fitting to his super responsible and caring nature, imo. Maybe standards are diff…moreMy main concern as a parent is the profanity. Kyle’s language is not fitting to his super responsible and caring nature, imo. Maybe standards are different in nyc?? The make-out scene between the main characters is very mild.(less)
Shirley While there are bits and pieces of the 9/11 history, it is more a story of the main characeters' reaction to and facing of the events of those first t…moreWhile there are bits and pieces of the 9/11 history, it is more a story of the main characeters' reaction to and facing of the events of those first tragic days. The main character's father is on-site at the rescue while his mother and sister are in Los Angeles trying to get back when no planes are flying into NY. Also, some of his freinds' families are injured or are victims, and the female main character has lost her memory. If you are looking for how people deal with the events of those days, then you will find this book insightful. (less)

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Average rating 3.98  · 
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Oct 07, 2016 rated it really liked it

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 pl
Where were you on 9/11? I’m guessing that if you ask anyone, they are hot to share. I sure know that the story comes gushing out of me when I’m asked. The event is etched in my memory forever. I remember how I felt, whom I called, what I feared—and I can recite exactly where I was and where everyone in my family was. I’m betting this is true of most people. I can only remember, I cannot forget.

Tragedy typically brings out the best in people, and often they are more honest with their feelings, p
Angela M
Aug 01, 2016 rated it really liked it

I usually resist reading books about 9/11 and I can only think of one that I've read before this one, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which is a beautiful story of a little boy coping with the loss of his father on 9/11. But it didn't focus on the actual events of that horrible day. I've shied away maybe because I just felt it was too soon. I was struck by Gae Polisner saying that very same thing in her notes at the end, "I didn't start the story right away. Not for years in fact. In my hea
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

On the day of 9/11, Kyle is trying to hurry home to Brooklyn. They let out school so everyone can try to get home. On the way he sees a girl looking over the bridge. He thinks she's going to jump. He grabs her arm and makes her come with him. She's wearing white angel wings.


The story is written in two different views. One from Kyle and the other from the girl which is written in bits and pieces. Fragments of memories she can't quite grasp. She doesn't even know her name. She feels like she's fa
Larry H
Jul 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
September 11, 2001. A day etched into our memories. Each of us that was old enough to understand the events of that tragic day can remember where they were, what they were doing, when they heard the news, or in some cases, saw the events unfolding before their disbelieving eyes.

In Gae Polisner's exquisitely moving novel, The Memory of Things , 16-year-old Kyle is in class at Stuyvesant High School when the first of the Twin Towers collapses. The school is evacuated and students flee for the s
Elyse  Walters
Jul 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Emotionally strong!!!!!
I knew what to expect going in...."a story of two teenagers finding friendship,
comfort, and first love in the days following 9/11".

What I didn't know, was how incredibly talented Gae Polisner is. This is an elegantly written novel.....layered with imagery, intimacy, and authenticity. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough...or avoid re-visiting 'memories & feelings' from 9/11.
This novel is completely gripping with moments of heart pounding adrenalin fear, and deep sadne
Jul 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5 Stars.

Another gripping "young"-adult novel, but this time, with an unforgettable historical New York City background setting.

THE MEMORY OF THINGS pulled me right in as a shocked and frightened crowd scurries across the bridge away from downtown Manhattan with its falling glass, sky of ash and acrid burning smell. Two planes have already hit, one building is down and 15 year old Kyle is worried as he knows his NYPD dad is in the heat of it somewhere.

This coming-of-age story leans heavily

Diane S ☔
Jul 19, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 I have the hardest time rating YA books. When I was growing up, there was no such thing as this genre and I am never sure if I should rate this as a YA reader would or as an adult. I decided on the later course. Sometimes reading books targeted for this audience are not written as such, but this one definitely is written as a YA book. Still, it is a beautifully crafted story, 911 and the after effects on two young teens. Very much a coming of age story as in a week we can see how much Kyle c ...more
Jul 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
4.5 Stars

“On walls and windows and bins and cars all around the rubble pile, New Yorkers have left messages in the grainy dust. They are expressions of anger, love, despair and patriotism, a form of temporary poetry that will last not nearly as long as the memories.”

He moves with the crowd, moving away from downtown, where the towers are, were … he’s not sure yet. A quick but steady pace, the crowd moving with that steady, heavy flow
Aug 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-books, ya
Surprisingly moving tale of two teenagers put together by circumstance in the chaos following the 9/11 attacks in NYC.

Other reviewers and the official marketing blurb do a good job of summarizing the plot, so I won't do that here. Polisner has taken an event that is seared into nearly everyone's individual memory and done two things: set a coming-of-age story against it, and captured the emotional spirit of how most everyone, in the days following the attacks, just wanted to do something -- anyt
Debbie "DJ"
Aug 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
This story was awesome! It pulled me in immediately, and not only was it difficult to put down, but when I had to, all I wanted was to get back to it. When I finished, I thought, was this a novella? Nope, I just wanted more!

This is not a grim story, but still brought to life the tragedy of 9-11. It captured brilliantly how one moment can change what we value, and radically shift our perceptions. Polisner writes:

"So now I get it. Now I fully understand. Tuesday and those planes, they've broken so
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 4000-books, mar-17
I am totally captivated by any and all books regarding one of the most horrific days in U.S. history, that of 9/11. It's difficult to understand what it was like to be close to the tragedy that unfolded. Yet Gae Polisner told this story with honesty and tenderness.

This is Kyle Donohue's story. A story about a teenage boy who has to endure for one week amid a swirl of unthinkable tragedy he is forced to deal with on his own. He finds a girl with angel wings frightened and huddling on the Brooklyn
Claude's Bookzone
3.5 Stars

CW: (view spoiler)

Well this was moving, but had so much going on that it felt a bit diluted, if you know what I mean.

I can't give too many details because they would be spoilers, but if you are interested, then look at the
May 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5 Stars. A coming-of-age story about hope and continuing to live when all seems lost.

Tuesday, and those planes, they’ve broken something. Permanently. And in the process, they’ve changed everything. And everyone.

September 11, 2001: Two planes fly into the Twin Towers. Kyle Donohue's NYC high school is evacuated after they witness the South Tower collapsing. While fleeing to his home on the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge, he spots an ash-covered girl wearing costume wings. She looks as i
L A i N E Y ~back in a bit~
Serious question: can you get PTSD from just ‘reading’ about traumatic events?? Because I was really rattled when reading this.
May 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I received this via Goodreads FirstReads in exchange for an honest review.

A touching, poignant story.. the subject matter handled with grace and sensitivity and compassion.

There's a lyrical way to the story as it goes along... the dual POVs were handled well and did a wonderful job putting you in the heads of these two people

Miss Polisner does an amazing job capturing the atmosphere, thoughts, and feelings during and after 9/11. It brought me back to my memories of the day.

I was 16 and in
Jen Ryland
Nov 05, 2015 marked it as to-read
I've lived in New York for a long time, which made me a bit wary of this book's subject matter. Has it really been fifteen years since that day? It feels like an eternity ago; it feels like yesterday.

The only 9/11 book I've really been able to read and enjoy was Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I'm not sure any book could top that one for me, but overall, I thought The Memory of Things was a moving and well-crafted story.

The book takes place on the morning of September 11, 2001, and opens a
Kelly Hager
Nov 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Finished The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner. I received a copy for review.

This book begins during the attack on 9/11. Kyle's dad is a first responder and Kyle knows his dad is at ground zero, trying to help. His mom and little sister are in California, where Kerri is trying to be an actress. His uncle is almost paralyzed after an accident. There's a lot on his plate even before you factor in the girl he met on his way home. (The girl had angel wings on and a case of amnesia. So who is she, wh
Jul 18, 2016 rated it liked it
I requested this on a whim, as it don't usually pick up things that are bound to be angsty.

I liked Kyle well enough. He's a typical boy in an atypical situation and I enjoyed being in his head. The interactions with his Uncle Matt were some of my favorite scenes and I was a bit surprised at that. In the brief span of the story, Kyle shows a lot of growth.

The story arc was interesting and I loved the snippets of the girl's POV that we got. I will admit that it was a bit confusing at first, but it
Angela DeSilva
Oct 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read this is one sitting I just couldn't put it down it was so good. Thoroughly enjoyed myself reading this young adult post 9 11 story. Anyone recommend more books about Sept 11? ...more
Aug 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For those of us not in NY on 9/11 it's difficult to imagine what it was like to be close to the tragedy that unfolded. While we could only sit and watch the plane fly into the tower and the towers collapsing over and over on our TVs, we had no sense of what is was like to be there, on the streets as ordinary New Yorkers going about their daily business. The author, Gae Polisner stated at the end of this novel that she had to wait many years to write this novel as the events were too raw and horr ...more
Apr 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
September 11, 2001. Kyle is part of the human stream flowing over the Brooklyn Bridge: to safety, and away from smoldering, smoking Manhattan. As he's crossing, he notices what looks like a giant bird perched at the edge of the bridge. Then he realizes it's not a bird. It's a girl. She looks lost and scared. She looks like she might jump. Kyle convinces her to follow him to the safety of his family apartment. He discovers she doesn't know who she is or what happened to her. And on top of dealing ...more
This was an average read for me. I know it's a YA book but personally I felt like it needed a lot more depth and emotion to really shine. That might sound weird seeing how it's a book that kind of revolves around 9/11 and the aftermath of that but I really just wanted more from the story and the two main characters. I feel like I'll forget about this book, it's not really going to stand out from everything else I have read.

What I liked:
-The positivity.
-The sense of unity in New York after the
Apr 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
So...I was denied the NetGalley ARC for this one. So sad! But...I requested that my library order a copy and they did! So excited to read it once it is released.

i got it anyway photo: And Then I Got High andthenIgothigh.gif

I got it anyway....
Gae Polisner's best book yet. An incredible addition to books about 9/11 as well as a tender and honest story about family, love, and hope. ...more
Jan 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In many ways, this book was hard to read for me: it brought back my own memories of watching nonstop coverage of 9/11 and hearing the jets scramble over my house, flying from the nearby military bases.

But my students don't have those memories. They don't know what it was like that day, and through fiction, this book creates a way to imagine what life was like for a New York City teen on those horrific early days. Told with nuance and compassion, The Memory of Things opens a door to the past tha
I read this one out loud with my oldest daughter - part of my review includes the actual reading experience and her opinion it's important you know a little background - my daughter is 17, and has autism - and perhaps while she struggles with some social skills, she still very much goes through the similar emotions and trials and has similar desires of most other teenagers her age. She finds reading an effortful, not overly enjoyable, but rather necessary, task - but enjoys stories and ...more
Cindy Burnett
Apr 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: net-galley
4.5 stars

The Memory of Things is a touching, poignant story about two teenagers who meet in the days following the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Kyle is at school in Manhattan when the first tower is hit. The school sends the kids home, and Kyle heads across the Brooklyn Bridge towards his home. As he is crossing the bridge, he sees a girl cowering in the corner who looks shell-shocked and is covered with soot and grime from the building attacks. In the midst of the chaos and trauma, Kyle decides t
Liza Wiemer
Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
On 9/11, I was home, glued to the TV with an electrician who, instead of installing recessed lights in our living room, stood beside me staring at the screen. It's a day I'll never forget.

So how does one do justice to one of the worst days in American history? Gae Polisner did it! THE MEMORY OF THINGS is a tender, deeply moving story of two teens grappling with the terrorist attack. The story moves seamlessly between a girl in angel wings and Kyle, a boy who finds her huddling on the Brooklyn Br
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Beautifully, poetic coming of age story based on one of the most horrific days in our country's history. Reading this book I recalled that day as if it had just happened. Elegantly written it is a story of young love, unity as a country and great hope! It's a shame we aren't able to hold on to the "one for all, all for one" persona on a daily basis as we gravitate to in times of crisis. Emotionally charged! Well done Gae Polisner! ...more
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I am a wannabe mermaid and the author of THE MEMORY OF THINGS, SEVEN CLUES TO HOME and several other novels for readers young, old or in between.

Please note that, although I originally tried to assign star-ratings to my book reviews (and, thus, you will see some of my favorite books with stars), I have stopped doing so. A 3-star review, for example, can mean such different things to readers and re

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