Liz Scheier’s darkly funny and touching memoir—with shades of Jeannette Walls’s The Glass Castle and Mira Bartók’s The Memory Palace—of growing up in ’90s Manhattan with a brilliant, mendacious single mother.
Scheier’s mother Judith was a news junkie, a hilarious storyteller, a fast-talking charmer you couldn’t look away from, a single mother whose devotion crossed the line into obsession, and—when in the grips of the mental illness that plagued every day of her life—a violent and abusive liar whose hold on reality was shaky at best. On an uneventful afternoon when Scheier was eighteen, her mother sauntered into the room to tell her two important things: one, she had been married for most of Scheier’s life to a man she’d never heard of, and two, the man she’d told Scheier was her father was entirely fictional. She’d made him up. Those two big lies were the start, but not the end; it took dozens of smaller lies to support them, and by the time she was done she had built a farcical, half-true life for the two of them, from fake social security number to fabricated husband.
One hot July day twenty years later, Scheier receives a voicemail from Adult Protective Services, reporting that Judith has stopped paying rent and is refusing all offers of assistance. That call is the start of a shocking journey that takes the Scheiers, mother and daughter, deep into the cascading effects of decades of lies and deception.
Never Simple is the story of learning to survive—and, finally, trying to save—a complicated parent, as feared as she is loved, and as self-destructive as she is adoring.
Publisher: Henry Holt/Macmillan
Publication Date: March 1, 2022
“Scheier…debuts with a stunning and generous account of living with her mother’s mental illness…Readers will find it hard to part with this one.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“The complexities of a mother/daughter relationship are laid bare in this darkly funny, and utterly shattering memoir. Liz Scheier writes with shocking beauty and grace, never once turning her back on the truth. Never Simple is a brilliant, triumphant debut by a writer of significant literary talent.”
—Augusten Burroughs, author of Running With Scissors and Toil & Trouble
“A riveting and poignant memoir of lies, compassion, and discovery. I couldn't put it down.”
—Jenny Lawson, New York Times bestselling author of Broken, Furiously Happy, and Let's Pretend This Never Happened
“Liz Scheier’s beautiful book is a testament to the undeniable, indestructible love between a mother and a daughter. In telling her story she brings enormous sympathy to an exceedingly complicated relationship, and thus a clearer understanding for all of us with mothers. It’s a meditation on the subject of how much fear and dread can be tolerated by a loving heart. I adored it.”
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Liz Scheier is a product developer living in Washington DC with her husband, two small children, and ill-behaved cat. She is working on her second book.
Tags: Adult, Memoir, Nonfiction