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When Clara Winter left her rural Adirondacks town for college, she never looked back. Her mother, Tamar, a loving but fiercely independent woman who raised Clara on her own, all but pushed her out the door, and so Clara built a new life for herself, far from her roots and the world she had always known.
Now more than a decade has passed, and Clara, a successful writer, has been summoned home. Tamar has become increasingly forgetful, and can no longer live on her own. But just as her mother’s memory is declining, Clara’s questions are building. Why was Tamar so insistent that Clara leave, all those years ago? Just what secrets was she hiding?
The surprising answers Clara uncovers are rooted in her mother’s love for her, and the sacrifices Tamar made to protect her. And in being released from her past—though now surrounded by friends from it—Clara can finally look forward to the future. Never Coming Back is a brilliant and piercing story of a young woman finding her way in life, determined to know her mother—and by extension herself—before it's too late.
About the Author
Alison McGhee writes for all ages in all forms, from novels to poems to books for children. Her best-selling novel Shadow Baby was a Today Show Book Club pick, and her picture book for adults, Someday, was a #1 New York Times bestseller. Her work has been translated into more than twenty languages, and she has won many fellowships and awards, including four Minnesota Book Awards, the Geisel medal, a MacDowell residency, and several American Library Association awards. Alison ?has three grown children and lives a semi-nomadic life in Minneapolis, Vermont and California.
A Midwest Indie Bestseller
“This sensitive novel…offers readers an intimate and painfully aware portrait of the debilitating effects of Alzheimer's on its victims as well as the people who must watch their tormented loved ones tumble into the disease's terrible abyss…Never Coming Back, [is] a novel about profound sadness, insurmountable loss and the possibility of allowing new people into your life.”—Star Tribune
“[A] quietly powerful novel….Fans of Sara Baume, Holly Chamberlin, and Francesca Segal will appreciate McGhee’s magnetic prose and her ability to pack a richly detailed story into a slim novel. Atmospheric and introspective, Never ComingBack will resonate with those who have lost a parent to illness or estrangement but still have questions they’d like to be answered.”—Booklist
“A luminous novel….the author’s gift for subtly poetic language and her believable dialogue make Clara’s journey worth following. McGhee has an almost musical ability to repeat the themes of her novel with enough variation to keep them fresh. Fierce, complicated characters appear to grow out of the severe Adirondack landscape, and McGhee swerves away from sentimentality in addressing the relentlessly changing relationship at the novel’s core.” —Kirkus Reviews
“[A] poignant meditation on the relationship between a mother and daughter….Though this well-written story will appeal to a broad range of readers for its rich characterization, mothers and daughters will especially find Clara’s and Tamar’s story moving and memorable.”—Publishers Weekly
“McGhee’s own gift for words takes you to the very heart of this tense yet tender relationship. Through vivid and meandering dips into memory, McGhee draws us into Clara’s rapidly shifting thoughts as she tries to piece together previous assumptions with new discoveries.”—BookPage
"McGhee’s latest novel...not only tackles the complexities of a mother-daughter relationship and the unresolved conflicts that can have lasting effects on both women, it also informs readers about how Alzheimer’s can quickly and cruelly ravage a person."—Library Journal
“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.”—Chris Bohjalian, bestselling author of The Sleepwalker, Midwives, and The Sandcastle Girls
“When a parent is involved, the journey of a caregiver can take the mind back through all the bumps and beauties of a complicated relationship and the heart and soul into new and challenging territory. Alison McGhee captures this--all the nuances and conflicts--in her beautifully written novel. Much to praise here but it is the remarkable characterization of the mother, the indomitable Tamar, who McGhee paints with such feeling, that lingers for me. A wise, humane book and a very special novelist.”—George Hodgman, New York Times bestselling author of Bettyville
“Alison McGhee returns to the landscape of the Adirondacks in this beautifully devastating novel about the things that remain unspoken between parent and child. Clara Winter’s need to know what lies on the other side of her mother’s Alzheimer’s-induced silence drives this book toward its ferocious conclusion. Never Coming Back is an exquisite book, brim-full with nostalgia, love, regret, humor, yearning--and unforgettable prose.”—Julie Schumacher, author of Dear Committee Members