June Junebug's Reviews > The Memory Palace

The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok
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Jun 18, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: health, memoir, non-fiction, biography, philosophy, arc, favorites, first-reads, goodreads-giveaway, psychology, disabilities, family, tw-abuse, trigger-warning
Recommended for: People who want to better understand mental disability.
Read from July 03 to 30, 2010 — I own a copy , read count: 2

*Goodreads Giveaway.

- Easy read.
- Poignant storytelling.
- Engaging from the get-go.
- Incredible prose.
- Gives great insight into mental disability.
- Every single character in her life had personality and made a significant contribution to the book no matter how minor their role.
- I loved how marginalized groups were not made ambiguous. For example, "the black woman in a pink coat" versus "the dark woman in a pink coat." Gave more clarity and identity to people which I now appreciate.
- Audience was shown things, not merely told.

- None. This book is beautiful.

I won this book as a Goodreads Giveaway and I'm so glad I did. I rarely ever read memoirs and when I do, they're usually about privileged white folk with nothing to do except a) wallow in their misery, b) talk shit about the world, c) pull purple prose out of their asses, d) sit around and do absolutely nothing to mend their "horrible" privileged situation, or e) a combination of all. They are a huge waste of time for the audience to read and for the author to write. However, I was very happy to find that The Memory Palace did not fit in any of these categories.

The beginning of each chapter usually tells a fun fact that's relative to the entire section. In the end of each chapter, it always circles back to it. The fact and the way she applied it to situations that occurred in her life isn't like anything else I've ever read. I'm glad for Bartok's powerful memory and incredible writing style because it taught me a lot about homelessness and mental disability. Bartok's memoir was incredibly engaging and evoked so many emotions people don't normally feel throughout a novel—joy, fear, warmth, sadness (made me cry several times), confusion, grief, empathy, etc. Usually novels only provoke one or two emotions out of me but this was just a plethora of powerful feelings, sometimes at once. Her life is very exciting, terrifying, depressing, and most of all, beautiful. I personally think this should be a literary classic and made into an official high school reading requirement. I believe it could teach impressionable young people a lot about compassion, possibly inspiring action.

Not only did the author honor the memory of her mother, but she did a great service for homeless people living with mental disabilities—something the American government always fails to do. As a society, we need to understand why people are forced into homelessness, especially when they are affected by mental disabilities as severe as Bartok's mother's (schizophrenia). Bartok's memoir illustrates why it's difficult for families who do not have the wealth, resources, and legal capacity to provide proper care for them. Like a broken limb, if left untended to, mental illness will develop to become severe enough to be fatal. It's not given the attention it needs because there's little to no visible physical ailments. This book depicts that it can not only threaten the person who lives with it, but it threatens the lives of the people in their lives as well. If the government and more people heard what schizophrenia is actually like, mental disability would have far more funding (VIDEO TRIGGER WARNING: noises compiled by scientists to accurately depict schizophrenia—very startling and may trigger anxiety for some people). This book could be a gateway to being more compassionate and understanding about people who live with mental illnesses and are pushed to homelessness.

This was the best and most brilliant way Bartok could have dedicated something to her mother. I thank her for this poignant gem and am definitely going to be recommending this book to others, especially those who need a better understanding into the mind of people affected by mental disabilities.
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07/04/2010 page 30
09/25/2016 marked as: read
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