Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Memory Palace: A Memoir by Mira Bartók | Review

Series: -

Published: August 2011 by Free Press

Pages: 306

Date Finished: April 1st, 2015

Rating: 3/5

Age Recommendation: -

I came across this book a few summers ago in a Vancouver bookstore when I was visiting my friend. At the time I was very heavily depressed so because of that, I was currently interested in reading books of a darker nature. When I read the back of the novel, it seemed like a very promising read and it instantly captured my attention. It only took me a few fleeting seconds to decide to purchase the book. I only began to read it two and a half weeks ago and in the space of about ten to fifteen minutes, I was hooked.

This memoir follows the story of Myra Bartók and her sister Rachel who later change their names to Mira and Natalia. Myra and Rachel grew up in a very crooked home with a schizophrenic mother who paid little attention to the pair when at her worst. Their mother, Norma, had an obsession with Nazis and was certain that they wanted to do her and her family harm. She believed heavily in the Jewish faith which would sometimes be the thing that encouraged her schizophrenic episodes. At one point Norma ends up homeless and it turns out that she has some major health concerns other than her mental illness.

Although Norma was very ill throughout her life, she was probably my favourite character in this memoir because even when faced with such an evil sickness such as schizophrenia, I could feel the love that she had for her daughters above all else. With that being said, my heart didn't sit the same with Mira and Natalia's grandfather. He seemed like a cold, horrible man who was very set in his ways and refused to let go of his past and the way things were done when he was young.

This memoir reads much like a twisted fairy tale. It's almost hard to believe that it's based on a true story. It entranced me from the very first sentence I uttered. The reason I'm giving it three stars lands on one con and one con only. The book was very difficult for me to read at some points because Mira filled the novel with so much detail and information -often presented in long lists of complex objects and the like- that my brain couldn't process it all and I would sometimes find myself having to read portions three or four times over to try to understand and comprehend what was being said.

Overall, this book is a spectacular read and I'd recommend it to anyone who needs to be reminded of the power of strength and love.

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