Ronya Misleh's Reviews > The Memory Palace

The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok
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's review
Aug 14, 2011

it was ok
Read from August 14 to 27, 2011

First and foremost, I found this book to be a very poor man's Glass Castle (which, incidentally, I loved). I don't know if my strong dislike for the narrator means that this was a well-written, good book or not. I can't deny that Bartok's words flowed nicely. It is what she said that I had a problem with. No matter how hard I tried, I could not understand the place from where Bartok was coming--how could she know that her mother was living on the streets (in some of the coldest places in the country) and not do more to help her? How could she go on living her own life knowing that her mother was in a shelter somewhere (or not knowing where she was)? Yes, she thought about her and bought her things, but seriously. Difficult childhood aside, it was not a behavior I could even begin to understand (but, I also recognize that I have not had to live through such a situation or in such a lifestyle and that I cannot really predict how I would react). People in the world do more to help those they don't even know, much less their own parents. I did not find Bartok's attempts to take care of her mother and get to know her (through rifling through her things more than talking to her) during her mother's last days to be at all redemptive. In fact, I found this attempt made her previous behavior even worse--if the end result was going to be trying to restore a relationship with her mother, anyway, why did she wait 17 years to do so? Bartok, in all of her relationships, seemed to be selfish to me. She surrounded herself with people who were damaged (her husband, for instance) but didn't do much to try to help them (unless she got something out of it).

That being said...the concept of this book was definitely unique and well executed--linking memories to pictures helped Bartok (who suffered from a brain injury as a result of a car accident)to recall important memories throughout her life. The fact that she is an artist added to the creativity of this approach. Using these photographs and other triggers, Bartok created her own memory palace. It is unfortunate that the memories were not always good.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Jess Pillera I agree. I had so many issues with how she handled things...but, after thinking about, maybe that was a result of her awful upbrining...the selfish behavior is a side effect. Not only was her mother screwed up, but her grandparents were messed up too. What I took issue with the most is that the two girls both acted like they were so very in love with their mother at the end. Convenient to be there to "love" her and "care" for her in her final days but not while she was alive.

Ronya Misleh I feel bad for being so harsh, because I don't know what living like that is like, but I just still can't get over the complete lack of disregard both girls had. Changing their names and running away from it all? I can't get behind that. And then coming in at the 11th hour so that they can do away with some of their guilt and say they were there for their mom despite their upbringing and experiences. Selfish.

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