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All Gone

3.28  ·  Rating Details  ·  661 Ratings  ·  143 Reviews
A daughter’s longing love letter to a mother who’s slipped beyond reach.
Just past seventy, Alex Witchel’s smart, adoring,ultracapable mother began to exhibit undeniablesigns of dementia. Her smart, adoring, ultracapabledaughter reacted as she’d been raised: If somethingwas broken, they would fix it. But as medical reality undid that hope, and her mother continued the tort
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published September 27th 2012 by Riverhead Books (first published September 21st 2012)
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Martha Stettinius
Sep 30, 2012 Martha Stettinius rated it really liked it
"All Gone" is a beautifully written mother-daughter love story, heartfelt and moving, but as a whole a bit thin. Perhaps I was expecting more details about her mother's dementia and its progression, while the bulk of the book was about the author's life with her mother growing up. Like her mother, my mother has vascular dementia from small strokes, and the progression of my mother's dementia over the years has been far more complicated and nuanced than what we see in "All Gone." Never-the-less, ...more
Richard Kramer
Oct 22, 2012 Richard Kramer rated it it was amazing
How flagrantly and/or promiscuously in your life have you tossed around the adjective "Proustian" as if it were a small, perfect ping pong ball, one whose whiteness can always be relied on to catch the light? I'm Proustian, you're Proustian, even the orchestra is Proustian.

But ALL GONE truly is, at least by my standards/definitions, not because it is as insanely fussed-at, or endless, or so refined that it seems, at times, to have been written in invisible ink; not, in other words, although othe
Jaime Hobbie
Aug 15, 2012 Jaime Hobbie rated it it was amazing
If you have a family member living with dementia, read this. You'll no longer feel so alone, and you'll laugh and cry...and also contemplate cooking a great meal.
Losing someone you've always felt you could never live without is difficult. It doesn't matter whether you lose them unexpectedly or quickly or watch them slowly fade away. Alex Witchel has given us a beautifully written, loving and heart wrenching memoir of her mothers life before and during her slowly progressing dementia.

I actually enjoyed this book more than I expected to. Honestly, I half expected to find it dreary and depressing - given the subject was something so close to my own heart,.
Nov 25, 2012 Nette rated it liked it
The second of two "difficult mom" books I read over the weekend. Richard Russo's mom was mentally ill, Alex Witchel's mom develops dementia. Both books were quite good, but I don't understand why there are recipes in this one. What an odd marketing strategy: nobody would buy it as a cookbook, would they? "Hey, enjoy this small collection of comfort food recipes, you can just ignore the parts with all the crying."

It also brings up interesting issues of money and class: this particular family is
Sep 09, 2012 Jolene rated it liked it
This is both a heartfelt and stinging recollection of Witchel's relationship with her mother and father. Witchel's rendering of her childhood, Nana, and Passaic will also stay with you. Witchel expresses her feelings so openly. I am hoping that she'll write a second memoir. Her relationship with her sister, Phoebe, and her husband and stepsons seems so loving and worthy of sharing--because of her depth of caring (and not just because her husband is Frank Rich from the NYT). Her story is authenti ...more
Diane S ☔
Feb 13, 2013 Diane S ☔ rated it liked it
A heartfelt book about a daughter, who was exceptionally close to her mother, and the mother who had sufffered a series of small strokes and whose memory was slowly eroding. Hoping to help her mother, who had always taken pride in how she took care of her family, she began to cook with her hoping to spark her old memories. Sad in parts, a very able woman slowly fading away and yet also very perceptive in reallizing that to help her mother she has to be willing to let her go. My mom is still aliv ...more
Mar 27, 2013 Sheryl rated it it was ok
I never fully connected with the story. It felt rushed and empty. I was hoping for more of a "Still Alice" type of read. I am a bit disappointed with the writer's inability to make this story interesting. The recipes probably didn't help...
Kathy Hupman
Sep 25, 2012 Kathy Hupman rated it liked it
I won this through a First Reads giveaway.This book was very insightful into caring for a parent with dementia. It makes you think about things that you normally would try to avoid. I enjoyed the flashbacks to the author's childhood.
Aug 27, 2012 Carol rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Won Uncorrected proof on First Reads.
Engaging, endearing and well-written. Witchel's family is brought to life on the page. I wish there were some pictures; I like photos with a memoir.
Jun 12, 2012 Cynthia rated it it was amazing
I loved this memoir. It's short, sweet, balanced, and well written. I've always been a fan of Alex Witchel's magazine and newspaper columns. Her memoir does not disappoint.
Judy Lindow
Mar 29, 2015 Judy Lindow rated it really liked it
It was sad. She writes, "I spoke with Roberta Epstein about the possibility of another family meeting. I filled her in on what was happening with Mom, how she was there, but not there. 'It's called ambiguous loss, " she told me. 'Gone, but not gone. She is your mother, but not the mother you knew. If she had died it would be easier to grieve her loss. It's hard to do that when she's sitting in front of you. That person is no longer the person you knew.'"

She also writes, "I felt crushed. Yes., I'
Tabitha Tucker
Sep 17, 2012 Tabitha Tucker rated it really liked it
This was very insightful and emotional for me to read with a mother-in-law with dementia. I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.
Leslie Angel
Aug 26, 2012 Leslie Angel rated it liked it
I liked and identified with many of her insights; didn't need the recipes but I understand why they're there.
(Lonestarlibrarian) Keddy Ann Outlaw
I found reading this book to be a totally empathetic experience. Novelist and NY Times journalist Alex Witchel's memoir of ambiguous loss mirrors my own experience of caretaking a parent with memory loss. In Witchel's case, her mother's dementia is stroke-induced, causing a once brilliant college professor to withdraw from much of life. One of Witchel's responses to this dilemma is to start furiously cooking her beloved mother and Nana's old recipes, thus the refreshments indicated in the subtit ...more
Jul 08, 2013 Homeschoolmama rated it it was amazing
In this day and age, when anyone and everyone and her sister writes blogs and self publishes books, and everyone thinks she can write well.... it is refreshing to read a book by a *writer*... who can actually write with talent! Witchel writes about her mother with such tenderness and wit and clarity, that it didn't matter that there were no black and white photos of her Mom in the book. You get the picture perfectly. I feel like I know her mother. And if that weren't enough, Witchel includes rec ...more
Nov 04, 2012 Maggi rated it liked it
Having had a similar experience to the author's with my own mom, I could certainly relate to the mental/psychological/emotional struggles she recounts in this book. However, as one reviewer says, her memoir is a bit "thin." I didn't find the recipe conceit to work well, especially when it doesn't seem that food and cooking were really that much an integral part of her family history. While I completely understand that the tedium of life with a loved one who is literally losing her mind is a very ...more
Alice Bola
Oct 09, 2012 Alice Bola rated it really liked it
I have been on quite a memoir kick as of late. Each has been better than the last and thankfully, All Gone followed that pattern as well.

In All Gone, author Alex Witchel recounts her mother’s battle with dementia. With refreshments, of course. The book begins with how Ms. Witchel copes by cooking her mother’s recipes, using food as a way to bridge the gap between who her mother was and is becoming. Each chapter ends with a difference recipe from Alex’s collection, recipes formed not only in food
May 11, 2013 Amy rated it it was ok
This one was a disappointment for me. I'd expected a cathartic read (my mother recently died of Alzheimer's), and I thought a memoir by someone who'd gone through the same thing would be emotionally satisfying. Except a good chunk of the time, the author talks about her life, her career, her marriage, which often has nothing to do with her mother or her mother's dementia. The promise of "with refreshments" in the subtitle implies that there's a food connection with her mother, but it's tenuous a ...more
Oct 15, 2012 Lesley rated it it was amazing
This book is a keeper.It will be housed with my special collection for all eternity. My heart was breaking for Alex Witchel as she travels through many years of her mother's life- pre and post dementia. Seeing that I have first hand experience with this debilitating illness( it attacked my own mother some seven years ago), I laughed, cried, empathized and mourned along with the author every step of the way.It felt like an honor and a privilege sharing Witchel's walk with illness and grief.You ca ...more
May 22, 2014 Jennifer rated it liked it
As a person who has a grandmother diagnosed with profound dementia and senile paranoia, I am constantly looking for information about elder care. It is both a comfort and upsetting to know that there are many others that struggle with this nightmare called dementia. Like the author, my grandmother’s dementia originated from several strokes, which caused permanent brain damage. This book is about the author’s struggle to accept her mother’s spiral decline into the world of memory loss and confusi ...more
Sharon Mcalister
Mar 31, 2014 Sharon Mcalister rated it really liked it
This memoir is the story of a mother and daughter and their efforts to deal with the mother's sad decline into dementia. Both are highly educated and successful in their chosen fields. The mother is a college professor while the daughter is an influential writer. The daughter, Alex, sets out to correct the problem. She tries all manner of treatments to reconnect her mother with the person she used to be. There are many references to "going back". She finds despite whatever methodology is employe ...more
Oct 09, 2012 Elizabeth rated it liked it
I tend to read all memoirs about dementia and Alzheimer's, because it taps into my two greatest fears -- that one of my loved ones will lose his or her mind, and that one day I will. Read this in a day -- very honest about family dynamics. Very honest about how hard it is. I liked it although it will not change one's life. It's sort of what you expect of the situation, actually. Alex Witchel writes for the NYT, and is married to Frank Rich(!).
Feb 08, 2013 Denise rated it really liked it
Written by New York Times food journalist Alex Witchel, the book is a retelling of her mother's earlier life as a college professor, wife, and mother of four, before her sad descent into dementia. Anyone who has seen a beloved parent succumb to dementia will identify. Witchel includes some of her mother's recipes. A quick read and a good contribution to the growing list of memoirs on this topic.
Renuka Soll
Oct 30, 2014 Renuka Soll rated it really liked it
Quite honestly, I didn't expect to like this book as much as I did. It's about a woman whose beloved, strong, take-charge mother has dementia caused by a series of small strokes. Raised to be strong like her mother, she tries going to doctor after doctor to fix the problem. Unfortunately, this is not fixable. She describes her childhood and her feelings and eventual acceptance about her mother's dementia. She finally realizes that she can't be the ideal daughter and give up her family life and m ...more
Sep 05, 2012 Nansubet rated it it was ok
A familiar story to many of my generation, yet it missed the mark for me. While grieving and food are a time-honored combination, here it felt like an awkward afterthought, as in, "I'm witnessing the unstoppable disappearance of my beloved mother..and oh, yeah, here's my mother's recipe for Roast Chicken."
Sep 22, 2012 Mary rated it liked it
Shelves: elle, memoir
Reviewed for ELLE Magazine's Readers' Prize Program (October 2012). "Witchel cooks up a timely memoir that reflects the multi-layered issues impacting the Sandwich Generation." Check out for the rest of my review.
Oct 08, 2012 Jennifer rated it it was ok
I thought this book would help me with my Mom's dementia - this lady has it EASY. I need to write a book about some of the "horrors" of this disease.

Nov 18, 2013 Kara rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book from the Goodreads giveaways and I am so excited to read it! Thanks!
Nov 24, 2014 Karen rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, food, dementia, aging
Witchel's mother has been complaining for years about being tired, and now her memory is getting worse. Witchel finally goes to the doctor with her mother and learns that she's on multiple medications from various doctors. Tests reveal that she has clogged arteries throughout her body and has brain damage from multiple TIAs.

In response, Witchel tries to coordinate care for her mother while at the same time trying to solidify her memories of her mother through four means: stories of her mother's
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Alex Witchel is a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine and also writes "Feed Me," a monthly column for the Times Dining section. The author of the novels The Spare Wife and Me Times Three, she lives in New York City with her husband, Frank Rich.
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“Part of the power of home cooking is that everything tastes better when someone else makes it for you.” 0 likes
“Being a child was not fun for me.” 0 likes
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