In this profoundly honest and examined memoir about returning to Iowa to care for her ailing parents, the star of Orange Is the New Black and bestselling author of Born with Teeth takes us on an unexpected journey of loss, betrayal, and the transcendent nature of a daughter’s love for her parents.
They say you can’t go home again. But when her father is diagnosed with aggressive lung cancer and her mother with atypical Alzheimer’s, New York-based actress Kate Mulgrew returns to her hometown in Iowa to spend time with her parents and care for them in the time they have left.
The months Kate spends with her parents in Dubuque—by turns turbulent, tragic, and joyful—lead her to reflect on each of their lives and how they shaped her own. Those ruminations are transformed when, in the wake of their deaths, Kate uncovers long-kept secrets that challenge her understanding of the unconventional Irish Catholic household in which she was raised.
Breathtaking and powerful, laced with the author’s irreverent wit, How to Forget is a considered portrait of a mother and a father, an emotionally powerful memoir that demonstrates how love fuses children and parents, and an honest examination of family, memory, and indelible loss.
About the Author
Kate Mulgrew, a native of Dubuque, Iowa, is an actress and author with an extensive career on stage and screen. From her start as Mary Ryan, the lead role on the popular soap opera Ryan's Hope to the groundbreaking first female starship captain on Star Trek: Voyager to her acclaimed performance as Galina "Red" Reznikov on Netflix's smash hit Orange Is The New Black, Kate brings a formidable presence and deep passion to all her projects. Her 2016 book, Born With Teeth, allowed her to add "New York Times bestselling author" to her resume.
“A darkly unsettling and unvarnished post-mortem of one fractured, complicated American family that will feel deeply, even painfully, familiar to some and shockingly, fascinatingly alien to others, but its emotional power is universally compelling. This is a masterfully crafted memoir, an elegant tour de force that firmly establishes Mulgrew as a writer of significant literary endowment. The soulmate to Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes, How to Forget, despite the promise of its title, cannot be forgotten or ignored.”
— Augusten Burroughs, author of Running with Scissors and Toil & Trouble
“This is a passionate book by a passionate writer. Overflowing with the true terrors of family life, with the fight for love and connection and understanding, with an amazing American story of hope and disappointment, sorrow and roots, this memoir will electrify readers and become a part of what we know about who we are.”
— Anne Roiphe, journalist, novelist, and author of the memoir 1185 Park Avenue
“Kate Mulgrew is a brilliant actor, which does not conceal her brilliance with the pen. This memoir, How to Forget, plunges you into familiar, familial depths of death, disease, and despair, only to pull you up again with a bawdy laugh. Death, disease, and despair are not walls for Mulgrew, but they are steps towards the sunlight of serenity. Read and cry, read and laugh, read and remember How to Forget.”
— Malachy McCourt, author of Death Need Not Be Fatal
“Though both sections of Mulgrew’s memoir build to painful goodbyes, How to Forget is more than just a sad play-by-play of illness and decline. It’s a beautiful portrait of a daughter’s love for her parents, packed with sharp, amusing recollections, all told with love.”
— New York Times
“Mulgrew, an actress best known for Star Trek: Voyager and Orange Is the New Black, plays her best role: as herself. This is no Hollywood tell-all, but a moving personal story about her family, in particular her aging parents, whom she cared for as they faced terminal illnesses.”
— Washington Post
“A rich, eloquent, and emotionally complex portrait of parent-child bonds and a colorful, unforgettable family. . . . [A] candid and moving memoir.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“Candid and intimate. . . . A detailed and searing portrait of a family facing the inevitability of death.”
— Publishers Weekly
“[An] engrossing story of a daughter’s love, told with brutal honesty.”
“Mulgrew has written a finely detailed memoir that brings [her parents], ever so briefly and only on its pages, back to life. . . . It’s the achingly unique particulars of the relationships between the author, her five brothers and sisters, and their parents that make this book stand out.”
— Providence Journal