In 2016 several new historic fiction books came out about 9/11. I am trying to read them all. Gae Polisner’s The Memory Of Things is fantastic! I highly recommend it for middle school and up. The characters are in high school. Kyle gets separated from his classmates and walks across the Brooklyn Bridge back home. On his way he finds a girl wearing angel wings, covered in ash. She looks like she might jump. He can’t just leave her there so he brings her home with him. The girl can’t remember her name or what just happened. His mother and sister are stuck in California and cannot get a flight home. His father, who is a NYPD detective is busy at ground zero, trying to find his fellow police officers. Kyle and the girl are alone in the apartment with his Uncle Matt. Because of an accident, his uncle needs around the clock care. He was a detective too. Kyle and the mysterious girl exist inside their post 9/11 bubble, watching the news, caring for his uncle and not sure what to do next. Kyle doesn’t think he can take the girl to the police just yet with so little information and no one really sure what is going on. He tries to help her remember who she is. The story is beautifully written with her confusing point of view alternating with Kyle’s point of view. Slowly, like removing the petals on a lovely flower, we learn who this girl is. It is a sweet love story, but can it survive once the girl finds out who she truly is? It is a page turner and a way to introduce the events of the day and the chaos of the aftermath. I also love this cover! The Memory Of Things is another favorite read of 2016.
Some ideas for discussing with teens:
Do the teens have any memories of 9/11? Were they born yet? How old where they? What do they know about that day?
Discuss how this story takes place in a bubble of sorts. Kyle hasn’t spoken to many friends since he evacuated after the attack and he hasn’t seen his mother or sister. His father is barely home. His world became smaller in these days after the attack.
Discuss this passage: “I spin and I spin and I spin. I’m a jewel box ballerina, and he is the music that’s winding me.”
Discuss Kyle’s relationship with his Uncle Matt.
Do you think Kyle’s relationship with the girl can last outside of their bubble?