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Never Coming Back

by Alison McGhee

Never Coming Back by Alison McGhee X
Never Coming Back by Alison McGhee
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2017, 256 pages

    Paperback:
    Oct 2018, 256 pages

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There are currently 22 reader reviews for Never Coming Back
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Kim (Hannibal, MO)

Such a good book!
Never Coming Back by Alison McGhee is well-written and relevant, with memorable characters and an interesting style.

The ever-increasing incidence of Alzheimer's in our world has affected not only the victims of its wrath, but also their caregivers. McGhee shares the story of Clara and her mother Tamar, two unforgettable characters who will sneak into the reader's thoughts long after the book is finished.

Of particular interest is the "Jeopardy" motif that appears frequently and quietly holds the narrative together. I also enjoyed the references to language and "bon mots" that are sprinkled throughout! . (And, yes, I frequently "uppercase" my thoughts/unspoken words!)

This book is a gem!
Debbie M. (Grand Junction, CO)

Never Coming Back
Alison McGhee is a talented story teller. She understands dementia and the effect it has not only the person who has it, but on their family and friends.I think we all reach a point where we want to understand ourselves and to do this we rely on those around us to fill in the gaps. When a parent starts losing their memories, it leaves holes we can't fill. We have to adjust our perception of who we are. Never Coming Back takes us on that journey.
Power Reviewer
Kristen H. (Hagerstown, MD)

Too Close to Home
Wow. That pretty much sums up my feelings of this book. I didn't realize how much this book would actually hit home for me. I have a mother who is diagnosed with dementia/Alzheimer's. At first I had no problems reading the book but as it went on, it became more apparent that it was too close for comfort. I had a great deal of difficulty finishing the book but I made my way through it. I have actually lived through it twice - once with my paternal grandmother and now my mother. I don't think I quite understood what was happening with my grandmother while it was happening but it is all too clear and real with my mother. The author did a superb job in writing this story and I was glad that I did not give up on it. Very well written.
Priscilla M. (Houston, TX)

A straight to the heart read...
Words loom large in this story, words in books, song lyrics, and in recalled conversations, yet the author writes sparingly, drawing the plot out slowly, adding layer after layer. The story is both simple and complicated because that's how real life is. Clara Winter has come home to upstate NY to care for her mother, who has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. Clara's relationship with her mother has always been complicated, and now she realizes she is losing someone she never really knew and the time for answers is almost gone because of her mother's illness. In addition, Clara needs answers to questions about her own life and loves, and the year she spends at her cabin by herself is the beginning of a long journey inside her own heart and head, searching for answers. The story is beautifully, powerfully written, the characters are well drawn, and I closed the book with a sigh and more than a few tears. I will be recommending this book to all my friends.
Colleen L. (Casco, ME)

A Fascinating Read
Never Coming Back is an emotional story of Clara Winter who comes back to her home town to take care of her mother who has advanced Alzheimer's. Clara's relationship with her mother, Tamar, has been distant over the years. As Clara handles her mother's affairs and spends time with Tamar, she attempts to get answers to many questions she has had.

I love the way Alison McGhee writes. I have a hard time describing this book and how it makes me feel. It is a not a 'feel good' novel but is written with such clarity, that it leaves you thinking about it many days after reading it. I lost my mother when I was young and some of the passages that McGhee wrote hit close to home. I suspect that older woman who read this novel will find some emotions that remind them of their own relationships with their mothers. It is a complicated novel and really makes you think seriously about relationships with your mothers. It also makes you think about Alzheimer's and all the horrors that disease brings.

Some novels make you laugh. Some novels make you think.... but the best novels make you 'feel' empathy for the character and touch your own emotional psyche. This book does it. It moved me and I guess that's the best compliment I can give a book.
Erika I. (Northville, MI)

Good Read!
Well written book that bounces back and forth in time. Explores how we become the people we are, and how experiences influence us. Also, it's interesting to see how the daughter's view of her mother changes as the daughter reflects on her mother's interactions with her self, her friends, and the daughter's friends. Woven throughout the story is the question of genetic testing, and the ramifications of knowing the answers these tests can provide. There's a lot here that is book club worthy!
Power Reviewer
Susan R. (Julian, NC)

Mothers and Daughters
This is a beautifully written, thought provoking look at a mother and a daughter and their acceptance of each other as the mother is losing her memory to early on-set Alzheimer's. To be honest, I almost didn't read this book because I just lost my mom and I knew it would be difficult to read about losing your mom but instead this book made me more thankful for my mom because we had no great secrets and I always knew that she was a person separate from being my mom. This novel is the journey of the main character learning to love and accept her mom and to realize that he mom always put her daughter first in her life. A beautiful story!
Claire M. (Wrentham, MA)

Words With Family
Words are wrapped around the heart of Clara Winter, sometimes they squeeze her so hard her heart races dangerously, threatening to tear her apart. Tamar Winter says little, explains less and is determined to do things her way, keeping her reasons to herself. How can a mother and daughter resolve misunderstandings of the past when they are engaged in a classic standoff? Coming of age is not a one-time process and it's not accomplished by ritual passages alone. The give and take of the mother-daughter relationship has new urgency as Clara faces the terrifying progress of her mother's disease.

The pulse of Clara's regular visits to Tamar acts like a metronome on the narrative, confining the action as surely as the mother and daughter are restrained by their life choices. With exquisite delicacy author McGhee reveals the emotional glue of these two eccentric, introverted and self-sufficient women. The small cast of intimate characters matches the spare nature of the Winters' lives and the Adirondack setting is true to isolated mountain life.

When the act of living is peeled back to its essence, then we hold on to what truly gives us meaning. What is that for Clara, for Tamar? Book group members will have much to discuss and ample opportunity for personal reflection as well.
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