When piano prodigy Norma Herr was healthy, she was the most vibrant personality in the room. But as her schizophrenic episodes became more frequent and more dangerous, she withdrew into a world that neither of her daughters could make any sense of. After being violently attacked for demanding that Norma seek help, Mira Bartok and her sister changed their names and cut off all contact in order to keep themselves safe. For the next seventeen years, Mira's only contact with her mother was through infrequent letters exchanged through post office boxes, often not even in the same city where she was living.
At the age of forty, Mira suffered a debilitating head injury that leaves her memories foggy and her ability to make sense of the world around her forever changed.
Hoping to reconnect with her past, Mira reached out to the homeless shelter where her mother is living. When she received word that her mother was dying in a hospital, Mira and her sister traveled to their mother's deathbed to reconcile one last time. Norma gave them a key to a storage unit in which she has kept hundreds of diaries, photographs, and mementos from the past that Mira never imagined she would see again. These artifacts triggered a flood of memories and gave Mira access to the past that she believed had been lost forever.
The Memory Palace explores the connections between mother and daughter that cannot be broken no matter how much exists—or is lost—between them. It is an astonishing literary memoir about the complex meaning of love, truth, and the capacity for forgiveness within a family.