Even though I was just barely a legal adult on 9/11/01… nothing made me feel old like when it sank in that I’d lived through a historical event.
New Yorker Gae Polisner’s YA, THE MEMORY OF THINGS, captures the mind-numbingly petrifying surrealness of being a young person in a digital-analog hybrid world, in the midst of the mass confusion that was the week following the attacks.
Told in alternate viewpoints of sixteen-year-old Kyle and a girl (Hannah, who has trauma-based amnesia from both the attack and her mom’s recent death), this story has the YA romance element without being trope-y or Hallmark-y, and a little bit of puzzle/mystery in identifying Hannah & getting her back home.
This book resonated with me so much on multiple levels: I’ve been the bereaved child; the immediate family of a police officer dealing with dangerous people; and the mentally-diminished TBI patient who’s a frustration/tragedy/embarrassment to the family (Kyle’s Uncle Matt; the only adult on-page through most of the book).
Polisner navigates all perspectives with the accuracy and empathy that all these personas need in the “windows and sliding-glass doors” to our world.
Verdict: With a real-life terrorist attack as its inciting event, this is obviously not a kittens-and-rainbows book. However, Polisner deals with heavy emotional subject matter in a way that would capture the interest of an older teen (or a teen with decades of experience 😉), but be emotionally appropriate for an intellectually precious preteen.
This book is a masterpiece.
Today, I am sending love and healing to everyone who needs it. 🇺🇸