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The Memory Palace

The Memory Palace - Mira Bartok Mira Bartok’s real name is not Mira Bartok. Nor does her sister Natalia go by her real name. Both women changed their names so their mother could not track them down.Both women had to start new lives with new names and completely cut off contact with their mother in order to survive.Bartok’s mother, Norma Herr, is the center of this memoir. Herr was a magnificent pianist who got blindsided by schizophrenia when she was in her early twenties. By then, she had married and had two daughters. Her life and the lives of her two young daughters became a downward spiral of hospitalizations and medications and homelessness. Bartok begins the story at the end, when Bartok reconnects with her mother in her mother’s last days. In the process, Bartok discovers that her mother has kept a storage room for all these years, a room filled with the miscellany of their lives. It is by sifting through items from the storage room, her “memory palace”, that Bartok tells the story of her mother’s life and her own life.Very powerful story.