Never Coming Back by Alison McGhee

Never Coming Back

When Clara Winter left her rural Adirondack Mountain town for college, she never looked back. Her mother, Tamar, a fiercely independent but loving woman who raised Clara on her own, all but pushed her out the door, forcing Clara to build a new life for herself, far from her roots, far from her high school boyfriend, far from the life she has always known.Now more than a de...

Title:Never Coming Back
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Never Coming Back Reviews

  • Chris

    “Never Coming Back" is a deeply moving exploration of growing up and growing old, and the ties that bind parents and children – and the mysteries that sometimes keep us apart.

  • Laura

    won signed copy from Alison McGhee.

  • Diane S ☔

    3.5 She left for college after the love of her life broke up with her, and didn't return for many years. Not until see hears that her mother s suffering from Alzheimer's disease, and has sold their home,all her possessions and entered nursing home. When. Rachel finally returns, looking for answers, she finds it too late, her mother, still fairly young, has very little memory left. She regrets never learning more about her mother, her mother's life and the burning question, Why did Asa breakup wi

    3.5 She left for college after the love of her life broke up with her, and didn't return for many years. Not until see hears that her mother s suffering from Alzheimer's disease, and has sold their home,all her possessions and entered nursing home. When. Rachel finally returns, looking for answers, she finds it too late, her mother, still fairly young, has very little memory left. She regrets never learning more about her mother, her mother's life and the burning question, Why did Asa breakup with her after talking to her mother?

    This is a novel of loss, different types of loss, but loss all the same. It is beautifully, almost poetically written, but often repetitive as Rachel learns some answers to her questions. It is slowly paced, the kind of novel one needs to savor for the language and the emotion. Sometimes it almost had a YA vibe, as Rachel, now an adult still has many of the traits of her younger self. Almost as if she is stuck, needing the answer to the big question, needing to discover her mother's role in what became of her life. Jeopardy is a big part of tis, one of the ways Rachel connects to her mother in the nursing home. Also a connection between her and her college friends, Sunny and Brown, great characters, and loyal friends.

    At a pivotal point in the novel, when she finds what she needs to know, she has this realization. "But the thing I hadn't known wen I was young and lacked perspective was that his love would always be with me. It was part of me forever. A room inside a room inside a room, a room that was always warm and bright. I could go and sit in that warmth whenever I wanted."

    Thought the above quote wonderfully expressed sentiments all of us could use when dealing with an almost unbearable loss. There is friendship here and mother's love that put her child's welfare above her own happiness.

    ARC from Edelweiss.

  • Sue

    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 t

    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!

    Thanks to Book Browse for a copy to read and review. All opinions are my own.

  • Virginia Myers

    I need to explain up front that I am a happy and healthy 83 year old woman living in a retirement community. Unfortunately, I have witnessed friends and family members reach a point in life where they, too, have become victims of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Some of those people have struggled to find the way “home” and some have continued to live without seemingly being aware of the fact that they are “lost”.

    So, wow! How should I describe my feelings about this book? I usually can find the

    I need to explain up front that I am a happy and healthy 83 year old woman living in a retirement community. Unfortunately, I have witnessed friends and family members reach a point in life where they, too, have become victims of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Some of those people have struggled to find the way “home” and some have continued to live without seemingly being aware of the fact that they are “lost”.

    So, wow! How should I describe my feelings about this book? I usually can find the words to express my feelings about the books I have read, but this one really stumped me. The first word that comes to my mind is: “weird”. I read another review that called the book heartwarming and fascinating. Not! The book left me feeling very uneasy.

    The author made me feel as if I had been inside the brain of a 31 year old woman (Clara) who is facing the problem of how to deal with her 51 year old mother (Tamar) who is suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s disease. As I read the book, I identified with Clara and it was not a comfortable feeling. I should have identified with Tamar, but the book did not let me do that. So, how do you rate a book that left you feeling disturbed?

    I think the author was able to describe the mish-mash of Clara’s feelings of loving concern and yet deep seated resentment about why she and her mother have never been able to really know and understand each other. Yet, now that I have completed reading it, I am not sure I understand what has happened.

    I am not good at figuring out the abstract – and too me, the resolution of Clara’s search is not clearly stated. I think Clara finally was able to find relief and an ability to look forward to the rest of her own life but I still feel somewhat confused. I don’t think that was how the author wanted me to feel. I guess I am just not smart enough to grasp the message.

    So I am going to give the book a rating based upon the author's artistry but just between you and me I cannot really say I enjoyed it.

    I must add that I received this free book under the First Impressions drawing by BookBrows by promising to do a book review. The words set forth above are my honest personal feelings about the book.

  • Maureen Timerman

    With this read we delve into the relationship of a mother and a daughter, and with this bond, it has always been just the two of them.

    Loosing a parent is never easy, but watching your parent die mentally little by little is very heart wrenching. The main character here is Clara and we watch her grow and learn about her mother Tamara, and it comes after her mother has entered an assisted living at 49.

    This story makes you realize that each day is not a given, and we see Clara trying to make sense

    With this read we delve into the relationship of a mother and a daughter, and with this bond, it has always been just the two of them.

    Loosing a parent is never easy, but watching your parent die mentally little by little is very heart wrenching. The main character here is Clara and we watch her grow and learn about her mother Tamara, and it comes after her mother has entered an assisted living at 49.

    This story makes you realize that each day is not a given, and we see Clara trying to make sense of what has happened, and wishing she could ask those questions that only a mother would know. Then with the Alzheimer’s diagnosis there is the question of carrying the gene, a lot to deal with.

    One of the reasons I read this book was it takes place near where I live, I have traveled many of these roads and visited a lot of these places.

    I received this book through Edelweiss and the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and was not required to give a positive review.

  • Elle

    This is a beautiful slow moving story that is meant to savored. As it unfolds, you flash back and forth between Claire's childhood, college years and present day. You gradually understand the many threads that weave into the years of the mother / daughter relationship as well as Claire's friendship with Brown and Sunshine. This is not an action or plot based book. It is very beautiful, honest and emotional look at the nuances and assumptions that are made and only when re-examined, can we see th

    This is a beautiful slow moving story that is meant to savored. As it unfolds, you flash back and forth between Claire's childhood, college years and present day. You gradually understand the many threads that weave into the years of the mother / daughter relationship as well as Claire's friendship with Brown and Sunshine. This is not an action or plot based book. It is very beautiful, honest and emotional look at the nuances and assumptions that are made and only when re-examined, can we see things differently. I want to rate this higher. Definite 'Best Of'. Incredible writing and I will be buying this for Mum (which is one of the highest accolades a book can get from me).

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)

    Clara left home and only returns when her mother starts having memory issues and needs her help. Part of this story is dealing with her mother's illness, but the other part is trying to understand what happened before she left. The setting is interesting; the whole novel has a bit of a dreamlike feeling that I can't quite grasp.

    I read this earlier this year but forgot to post it!

    Thanks to the publisher for providing early access.

  • T

    Parts of this story were heartbreakingly well-written as Clara navigates her mother’s decline. And I enjoyed the many written devices that she visualizes in the middle of dialogue. It may come across as a touch self-indulgent, but I am certain that the author experiences this in reality and is not a gimmick. Parts of this story were melodramatic and seemed to portray a woman much younger than her 32 years (I envisioned a 20- or 22-year-old) as she mourned the end of her high school relationship.

    Parts of this story were heartbreakingly well-written as Clara navigates her mother’s decline. And I enjoyed the many written devices that she visualizes in the middle of dialogue. It may come across as a touch self-indulgent, but I am certain that the author experiences this in reality and is not a gimmick. Parts of this story were melodramatic and seemed to portray a woman much younger than her 32 years (I envisioned a 20- or 22-year-old) as she mourned the end of her high school relationship. Maybe this is a realistic portrayal given the world events of that decade and her small town early years, but for this reader, it didn’t jibe with Clara’s subsequent life experiences of college and adult life away from her small town. Overall a solid read. (Note about the audio version: Please, dear author, pony up the extra cash to pay a professional actor (unless you’re Neal Gaiman). George Lucas didn’t insist on playing Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, and Darth Vader, for a reason.)

  • Sharon

    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of Never Coming Back.

    I was under no obligation to review this book and my opinion is freely given.

    After Clara Winter was basically forced, by her mother, out of the Adirondacks for college, she never looked back. One day, Clara receives a call that her mother, Tamar, needs her. Will she be able to find the courage to ask the questions that have been plaguing Clara since her teenage years?

    Never Coming Back was all over

    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of Never Coming Back.

    I was under no obligation to review this book and my opinion is freely given.

    After Clara Winter was basically forced, by her mother, out of the Adirondacks for college, she never looked back. One day, Clara receives a call that her mother, Tamar, needs her. Will she be able to find the courage to ask the questions that have been plaguing Clara since her teenage years?

    Never Coming Back was all over the place, with retrospective looks to the past disrupting the flow of the novel. Tamar's story should have been compelling, but it came off flat and uninspiring. The premise of the book was good, but the author just never got there. I was expecting more from this book and was disappointed in the ending, especially. I would be hesitant to recommend Never Coming Back to other readers, for the reasons I have mentioned above.

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