Reviews for Never simple

Publishers Weekly
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Scheier, a PW contributor, debuts with a stunning and generous account of living with her mother’s mental illness. “Telling exorbitant lies was easier in the 80s,” she recounts of her New York City childhood. “There was no internet, no way to track down the clues.” And lie her mother, Judith, did—endlessly: about the identity of Scheier’s father; her marital status; and about her daughter’s birth certificate (born at home, Scheier didn’t have one). It wasn’t until college that Scheier found out her mother was a master of deception, a revelation followed by another explosive discovery—that Judith suffered from borderline personality disorder. As Scheier writes, “People suffering from borderline personality disorder live in a world on fire.” In crisp and commanding prose, she traces how, until her mother’s death in 2019, that fire swept through her own life—her childhood enduring Judith’s “all-consuming wrath,” her own suicide attempts as a teen, later selling her eggs to keep her aging mother from becoming homeless. Yet, strikingly, compassion trumps anger: “I loved her smoky cackle and her jokes... her whole-body storytelling,” she writes. “Now that I have my own children, I see how much of her best my mother did.” Readers will find it hard to part with this one. (Mar.)


Library Journal
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Scheier steps away from her work in editing and publishing to release her own memoir that blends dark humor with heartache. The work seems to come from Scheier's need to reflect upon and accept her relationship with an overbearing mother, who haunted every developmental stage of the author's life. How does one love and fear the person they are closest to?, Scheier asks. Her rich imagery and engaging prose will keep readers turning the pages as she recounts growing up in 1990s Manhattan with a mother who had borderline personality disorder. Scheier shares her and her mother's stories with care and reflects on her life as a child and now, as a parent. Readers who have lived in New York City, are members of Generation X, or grew up in an environment tinged with mental illness will find much to relate to in this memoir; those who are intrigued by family secrets will want to keep up with the unknown diagnoses and identities that unravel within. VERDICT A brave exploration of a difficult but forever-connected mother-daughter relationship. Scheier's memoir will appeal to many, thanks to its wit, unraveling mystery, and honesty.—Kelly Karst


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is characterized by unstable relationships, fear of abandonment, and intense emotion. Here, Scheier reflects on her life growing up in the chaos wrought by her mother’s BPD. Sometimes raw and other times wry, Scheier recounts the combinations of adventure and abuse, love and terror her mother, Judith, engendered. A compulsive liar and gaslighter, Judith even weaponized Scheier’s own identity against her by withholding information about her father and preventing her from obtaining the legal documentation to live independently. A tension between absence and presence permeates this memoir: an absent father present in her mother’s lies, while having a mother present but “mourning the absence of the one you actually wanted." Judith’s manic money management renders her homeless, reducing her former power over her daughter to pitiful vulnerability. Ultimately, Scheier reconciles these two contradictory truths of her mother’s persona. Scheier’s final pages are a moving confession of learning how to love her own children the “correct” amount without subjecting them to the damaging extremes of a mother’s love.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A former Random House editor and content developer recounts an improbably complicated life courtesy of an eccentric, mentally ill mother. Scheier’s mother, Judith, was a font of mystery and mistruths. Early on, the author recounts the time she wanted to enroll in driver’s education and needed her birth certificate. “I never filed a record of your birth at all,” said Judith. “Why not?” Replied Judith, “I was married when you were born. But not to your father.” There are multiple misdirections in this simple exchange, enough to set Scheier, ever curious, to playing the role of detective. Her father supposedly died before she was born, but there was much more to it than all that. “Telling exorbitant lies was easier in the ’80s,” writes the author, and were there a lot of them—e.g., the fake Social Security number Judith got for her daughter or how she was able to live in “a luxury neighborhood in one of the most expensive cities on earth for decades without working over a single day.” Scheier sought escape, at one point attempting suicide (“I was irretrievably broken. Entirely unfixable”). In a moment of dark humor, which abounds throughout the narrative, she writes that after taking way too many pills of various kinds, she wound up vomiting for hours in the bathroom, reading her English homework—Steinbeck’s The Pearl—“between heaves.” Later, she endured a “nearly sexless relationship for the better part of a decade,” a union that ended with her partner’s infidelity. “The next few weeks looked like a movie montage of a recent breakup,” she writes, “preferably with myself played by Kristen Wiig.” Eventually, Scheier found new love and motherhood, in between episodes of which she continued to investigate the identity of her father and endured a mother who, though sinking into dementia, still had enough tricks up her sleeve to land the author in an eviction lawsuit, with no end to the mishegoss. A fraught and sometimes overwrought drama on every page, punctuated by shrewd wit. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A former Random House editor and content developer recounts an improbably complicated life courtesy of an eccentric, mentally ill mother.Scheiers mother, Judith, was a font of mystery and mistruths. Early on, the author recounts the time she wanted to enroll in drivers education and needed her birth certificate. I never filed a record of your birth at all, said Judith. Why not? Replied Judith, I was married when you were born. But not to your father. There are multiple misdirections in this simple exchange, enough to set Scheier, ever curious, to playing the role of detective. Her father supposedly died before she was born, but there was much more to it than all that. Telling exorbitant lies was easier in the 80s, writes the author, and were there a lot of theme.g., the fake Social Security number Judith got for her daughter or how she was able to live in a luxury neighborhood in one of the most expensive cities on earth for decades without working over a single day. Scheier sought escape, at one point attempting suicide (I was irretrievably broken. Entirely unfixable). In a moment of dark humor, which abounds throughout the narrative, she writes that after taking way too many pills of various kinds, she wound up vomiting for hours in the bathroom, reading her English homeworkSteinbecks The Pearlbetween heaves. Later, she endured a nearly sexless relationship for the better part of a decade, a union that ended with her partners infidelity. The next few weeks looked like a movie montage of a recent breakup, she writes, preferably with myself played by Kristen Wiig. Eventually, Scheier found new love and motherhood, in between episodes of which she continued to investigate the identity of her father and endured a mother who, though sinking into dementia, still had enough tricks up her sleeve to land the author in an eviction lawsuit, with no end to the mishegoss.A fraught and sometimes overwrought drama on every page, punctuated by shrewd wit. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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