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The Memory Palace

by Mira Bartok

" 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.

Something to Read About

by Chris Cleave Mira Bartok Sarah Pekkanen Philippa Gregory

Featuring favorite authors and thrilling debuts, Something to Read About: A Book Club Sampler, is the guide for finding your next book club read. Whether you're in the mood for something historical, contemporary, young adult, or true life these are books you and your reading group won't want to miss: The Memory Palace: A Memoir by Mira BartÓk, Incendiary by Chris Cleave, The Chemical Garden Trilogy Book One: Wither by Lauren DeStefano, The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory, Possession by Elana Johnson, The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball, The Butterfly's Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe, Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen, and Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley. Enjoy an excerpt from each book accompanied by a collection of bonus materials intended to enrich your reading experience and book club discussion. You'll get discussion questions, suggestions for enhancing your book club, and full-length author interviews. We've even included a special note from the author and their answer to our culinary quandary: "What would you serve at a book club discussing your own book?" Their menu suggestions range from a family recipe for the "Best Ever Refritos" to a "Royal-Tea Cocktail" and are sure to add something special to your next book group meeting. The Something to Read About sampler was created to help you discover your next won't-be-able-to-put-it-down, can't-wait-to-talk-about-it, all-time-favorite read. And like most of the finer things in life, these stories are meant to be shared. Enjoy!

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