Monday, February 7, 2011

Mira Bartok Memory Place

I got a hold of this book and thought, hey, I have the perfect person in mind for this book, my daughter the mental health professional. Her growing practice revolves around family counseling and this is the thing right here, a book that has some serious mental issues and family problems. Here is the synopsis; it is lengthy, but I want to make sure that you get to soak in the enormity of the issues faced by the author. They are many and amazingly she triumphed over them.
“People have abandoned their loved ones for much less than you’ve been through,” Mira Bartók is told at her mother’s memorial service. It is a poignant observation about the relationship between Mira, her sister, and their mentally ill mother. Before she was struck with schizophrenia at the age of nineteen, beautiful piano protégé Norma Herr had been the most vibrant personality in the room. She loved her daughters and did her best to raise them well, but as her mental state deteriorated, Norma spoke less about Chopin and more about Nazis and her fear that her daughters would be kidnapped, murdered, or raped.
When the girls left for college, the harassment escalated—Norma called them obsessively, appeared at their apartments or jobs, threatened to kill herself if they did not return home. After a traumatic encounter, Mira and her sister were left with no choice but to change their names and sever all contact with Norma in order to stay safe. But while Mira pursued her career as an artist—exploring the ancient romance of Florence, the eerie mysticism of northern Norway, and the raw desert of Israel—the haunting memories of her mother were never far away.
Then one day, Mira’s life changed forever after a debilitating car accident. As she struggled to recover from a traumatic brain injury, she was confronted with a need to recontextualize her life—she had to relearn how to paint, read, and interact with the outside world. In her search for a way back to her lost self, Mira reached out to the homeless shelter where she believed her mother was living and discovered that Norma was dying.
Mira and her sister traveled to Cleveland, where they shared an extraordinary reconciliation with their mother that none of them had thought possible. At the hospital, Mira discovered a set of keys that opened a storage unit Norma had been keeping for seventeen years. Filled with family photos, childhood toys, and ephemera from Norma’s life, the storage unit brought back a flood of previous memories that Mira had thought were lost to her forever.
The Memory Palace is a breathtaking literary memoir about the complex meaning of love, truth, and the capacity for forgiveness among family. Through stunning prose and original art created by the author in tandem with the text, The Memory Palace explores the connections between mother and daughter that cannot be broken no matter how much exists—or is lost—between them. “
Here is my daughter’s take on the novel:
“Mira Bartok recreates for the reader an impressive visual of life, besotten with sadness that stems from living with severe mental illness. The Memory Palace brings the reader into a world of chaos, ridden with an author attempting to make sense of her mother's delusional thoughts and her own traumatic brain injury/recovery. All this takes place after the seventeen year separation of mother and daughter, reuniting only to find her mother's cancer diagnosis to be terminal. Through discovery of her mother's storage unit, Bartok carries her readers on a journey of artistic expression exploring the love, trials, and tribulations that riddle a mother/daughter relationship, even in the guise of mental illness. Devoid of exhaustive clinical content, Bartok presents accurate depictions of the painful struggles families that suffer mental illness endure, while sharing with the reader her narrative of love, kinship, and forgiveness. The Memory Palace proves to be a refreshing encounter of self-exploration, family, and reconnection that is as valuable for the reader as the author.”
Serious stuff! Besides that I have never used a word like besotten. My advanced degree from High School doesn’t allow me to do that. If you are reading this before 6pm EST please feel free to stop by the Gelati’s Scoop GZONE on blogtalk radio- and listen in, call in and ask questions of author Suzanne Woods Fisher author of The Search. Did you know she sold over 200,000 novels last year? The rest of the week on the blogtalk we have Vincent Zandri on Weds. And then on Thursday we are happy to be talking to Steve Berry again. If you can’t listen in live, check out the archives of the show. Feel free to send me a question for the authors via Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, or just plain old email- .
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