How To Forget: A Daughter's Memoir

Morrow. May 2019. 352p. ISBN 9780062846815. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062846846. MEMOIR
In her first memoir, Born with Teeth, stage and screen actress Mulgrew (Star Trek: Voyager; Orange Is the New Black) discussed her longing for the daughter she gave up for adoption. With this follow-up, she examines a different form of longing—that of her parents' approval. In two sections, one devoted to each parent, Mulgrew recounts life as the second oldest of eight children, in an Irish Catholic household in Dubuque, IA, with a family history of alcoholism and silent resentment. She details her dad's hard childhood and his impassivity after the deaths of two of Mulgrew's sisters while relating her mom's equally challenging upbringing, losing her own mom at a young age, and retreating into herself after the sudden loss of two children. With candor, Mulgrew shares her efforts at caregiving after her mom develops Alzheimer's and, later, her dad is diagnosed with cancer. The author's privilege shows in passages about her reliance on her caregivers of Mexican descent; however, she reveals the painful effects of a family's long-standing fear of doctors and lack of vulnerability.
VERDICT Though long-winded at times, this intimate memoir shares the realities of loving flawed parents and coping with grief and loss; a worthwhile read.

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