Tragedy, Connection, and Hope

the-memory-of-thingsBook Club Advisor welcomes author, Gae Polisner, for a video interview on the power of literature, how The Memory of Things was created, and the impact of a national tragedy on a generation. (Scroll down for vlog clips with the author.)

It is the morning of September 11, 2001. Kyle is sixteen years old and his world is crumbling in front of him. From his high school in downtown Manhattan, Kyle watches the first Twin Tower fall and runs back home to Brooklyn as chaos descends. On the way, he finds a beautiful girl covered in ash and wearing costume wings, a girl who appears ready to jump from the bridge. He convinces her to come home with him to safety. Kyle feels lost and frightened, responsible for his uncle who needs medical care with the nurse unable to come due to the city being at a standstill. Kyle’s father is a first-responder at the scene and Kyle’s worry for him is palpable. When the story begins, Kyle only knows that his mother and sister are on a plane back from California. He cannot remember which flight or what time and fears for their lives. Kyle and the girl are both lost in grief and fear.

Once home, Kyle tries to help the girl in any way he can, as she cannot remember who she is or how she got there. Kyle also finds himself falling in love with the her, with all the gut-wrenching, heart-pounding moments first love brings, making him wish he didn’t have to let her go.

In gripping prose and purposefully fragmented verse, Kyle and the girl live through the first few days of a national tragedy in all the odd juxtaposition of normalcy and continuing with routines while not knowing what the world has in store next, and fearing the worst. With heart and humor and a wonderful cast of secondary characters, readers walk through trauma and experience the power of human connection to build hope.

Gae Polisner graciously answered questions for me here at Book Club Advisor. Both Gae and I wondered if this was an important task to complete in our current national situation, as she agreed to the interview before the election. With encouragement from a young reader/blogger (Six Reasons Why You Need to Read The Memory of Things),  Gae ultimately decided that stories are places to find hope and healing. A huge thanks to Gae, who took the time to answer each question so thoughtfully. Like her books, her answers are heartfelt and genuine.

Each question is answered in its own video, so feel free to skip around.

Thoughts on a book interview at this challenging time, empathy, and hope:

This is a book that takes place in just a few days. Did you know that when you began writing?

This novel is told in two points of view, why did you make that decision?

The voices of the two characters are very different. Kyle’s story is told in prose and the girl speaks in fragmented verse. What led you to this choice?

This book takes place in 2001. What do you think the girl and Kyle are doing now? What kind of adults do you think they turned out to be?

How do you think the events of September 11, 2001 and its devastating consequences affected young people of that generation?

Are you working on a new book? When can we read it? 🙂

Thanks again to Gae for taking the time to talk to my readers and me! Best of luck with your next book! (I can’t wait to read it!)

Also by Gae Polisner:

the-summer-of-letting-go  the-pull-of-gravity

Click on any book cover to buy indie!


Published by

Christine Thomas Alderman

Christine Thomas Alderman is a writer and educator working in Texas. She holds a graduate degree from Harvard University. Her work was long-listed for the Bath Flash Fiction Award and included in their anthology: To Carry Her Home. She won the Cynthia Leitich Smith mentorship from the Austin Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Find her at

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