The Memory of Things, by Gae Polisner

I was teaching assistant at an elementary school, getting ready for work when the planes hit the towers. My husband, already at his job at a major aerospace company, heard nothing until I called him.

We were parents of a 5th grader, and our main focus was to limit the constant replay of horror in the news, navigating tragedy with her even as we tried to help her view the experience as a part of history that would change our nation forever.

Reading The Memory of Things brought 9/11 all back in ways that surprised me. I remembered when I read it that 80 5th graders wrote poetry on handmade paper we made together, then created tiny books of hope to send to school students across the nation. I wondered all over again when I read it what school that was, and how they are all doing today, and who they miss.

Polisner’s characters always, always tug at me because she writes them so true, humans with flaws and fears, just like me. Humans too, though, with hope, even through their uncertainty.

So much of this book could have missed it for me, have gone too far one way or the other, but the treatment of tragedy, of the aftermath, and mostly of people finding one another with their hearts, is deft and real.


This book releases on September 6th, and you should just go ahead and pre-order it now. You’re going to want to share it with the teens – and the adults – in your life. And then you’re going to want to talk about it.


About vst3in

I am a writer, avid reader, birder, food preserver, and retired school library lady. I love colors and textures looking for them in the world around me. I'm working on a historical novel and reading lots of books for young people. I'm working to stay strong into my senior years, and I sail with my husband. This blog contains thoughts about all these things.
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