5.2.16 It’s Monday! What are you reading?! #TheMemoryOfThings

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

{Celebrating the books we’ve read in the past week


the titles we are currently reading.}

This meme is originated by Jen and Kellee at TeachMentorTexts. Thanks!

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The Memory of ThingsI read an advanced copy, thanks to Netgalley. The Memory of Things will be born on September 6, 2016. Review below.

 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 and unable to reach his father, a NYC detective likely on his way to the disaster, Kyle makes the split-second decision to bring the girl home. What follows is their story, told in alternating points of view, as Kyle tries to unravel the mystery of the girl so he can return her to her family. But what if the girl has forgotten everything, even her own name? And what if the more Kyle gets to know her, the less he wants her to go home? “The Memory of Things” tells a stunning story of friendship and first love and of carrying on with our day-to-day living in the midst of world-changing tragedy and unforgettable pain. It tells a story of hope.

“Where were you when the world stopped turnin’ that September day?”

It might seem trite or overdone to start writing about 9/11 using the lyrics to Alan Jackson’s famous song. I hope not, because that opening line brings back everything from that day—a day that felt like it stood still.

I remember growing up hearing older people tell stories about remembering where they were when JFK was assassinated. Some even remembered where they were when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. It amazed me that a news story could freeze people’s memories.

The first big event I vaguely remember was when President Reagan was shot in 1981. The next momentous day was when I was my students’ age and the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred. I remember my teacher, Mrs. Wilson, coming to pick us up from lunch with tears in her eyes. This was back when sixth grade was in elementary school. When we got back to the room, she told us what happened. Of course, this was a particularly big deal because Christa McAuliffe—a teacher from New Hampshire—was on the Shuttle. I went home and watched the explosion with my mom on endless replay—the Shuttle lifting upward in a beautiful arc against a perfect blue sky. Then a white explosion. The shuttle disappeared and the booster rockets twisted off at odd angles. Tragedy.

Where was I when the world stopped turning on September 11, 2001? I was in my classroom meeting with other teachers. Our students were off team and the guidance counselor called down to tell us the weird news that a plane flew into the World Trade Center. The only image I could get in my mind was an old fashioned biplane like the ones that tried to attack King Kong when he climbed the Empire State Building in the old movies.

It wasn’t. They weren’t.

We wheeled out the TV from behind the door and watched as the first tower fell. Then the second. And when the students came back on team we were glassy-eyed and shocked, ushering all 75 of them into my room where we told them a little bit of what was going on. Our principal forbade us from showing news coverage, which was wise—though we didn’t think so at the time. Instead, we hastily drew a map of New York State and explained briefly what happened.

I will never forget. The memory of those things are scratched into who I am. (Here is a powerful recounting of the experience from a then 13-year-old girl.)

I also won’t forget watching videos of people hurrying through the streets of NYC trying to escape the disaster as ash rushed upon them, ghosting them in their work clothes.

This is where we begin Polisner’s The Memory of Things. Kyle is one of those people, running across the Brooklyn Bridge. Everyone was sent home from his high school, and when he comes across the winged-girl on the bridge, the story begins. On a day when two of the most iconic buildings in New York come crashing down, finding a girl with wings probably didn’t seem that strange. Kyle is a hero—a quiet, responsible, do-the-right-thing kind of 16-year-old—and goes against the flow to bring the winged girl to safety. What place would be safer than his house?

Kyle helps and tries to get to know this mystery girl while waiting to hear from his dad, a NYC detective who was likely rushing into the Towers to help people when the Towers collapsed. Where is he? Why can’t Kyle get through? He tries to hold it all together, his brain continually chipping away at bleak reality.

The girl is a distraction. What is her name? Where is she from? Is she missed? What is up with the wings? Did she have people in the towers too?

As readers, we get to hear from the mystery girl as well. Alternating with Kyle’s prose, her scattered story is told in verse. It feels schizophrenic, almost stream-of-consciousness. Her story is told a bit at a time until it comes out with a wallop.

Older readers like me will find themselves drawn to the remembering of 9/11 that’s used as a backdrop for the story.

Younger readers will be drawn to the book as they experience the tragic events in first person for the first time. They will find themselves turning pages to cheer on Kyle, uncover the winged-girl’s past, and discover the memory of things.

Did you catch my MrEtkinSHMS Instagram posts this past week?
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 How many books did students in each class read?


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For every parent who leaves a comment on TODAY’S POST with what YOU’RE reading, I’ll give your child a BUSTED ticket…

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The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones
School of the Dead
Never Missing, Never Found
This is the Part Where You Laugh

5 thoughts on “5.2.16 It’s Monday! What are you reading?! #TheMemoryOfThings

  1. Pingback: 5.9.16 It’s Monday! What are you Reading? | {Eat the Book}

  2. This is Narayan’s mom. I am currently reading The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. It is a historic fiction novel based on the building of a catherdral in 14th century England. It’s very long.

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