The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok is a book I’ve been slogging through for what seems like days and days and days. It’s interesting and well written, but I’m finding the subject matter thoroughly depressing and after a couple of chapters I have to set it down for a while and go off and do something else.
It’s the story of two sisters and their tormented relationship with a schizophrenic mother. There are breakdowns, suicide attempts, physical attacks, passionate outbursts. Eventually the craziness and the inability to get help (or for their mother to accept the fact that she needs it) drives the daughters away. They must physically abandon their mother to survive. The emotional ties are not so easily severed of course.
Apparently, according to the back cover, there’s an extraordinary reconciliation at the end when the daughters return to be with their mother before she dies. I haven’t gotten that far yet.
Mental illness can be a terrifying thing if it can’t be diagnosed and treated and understood. All of us are a little bit crazy. Some of us more than others. It’s the ones who are completely out of it and have no idea there’s anything wrong who become a danger and a threat to the well-being of everyone around them.
It’s just all too sad for words. If you think you’re too happy and you want to do something about that, read this book.