My Disappearing Mother: A Memoir of Magic and Loss in the Country of Dementia


To come to terms with her mother’s dementia, writer Suzanne Finnamore’s groundbreaking new memoir conceptualizes dementia as an actual, albeit rather magical, place, “like the Acropolis or Yonkers…a place where beloved and ancient queens and kings retire, where linear time doesn’t exist, and the rules of society are laid aside…. Whenever I go to my parents’ double-wide in Hayward, California, I am really traveling to Dementia.”

My Disappearing Mother: A Memoir of Magic and Loss is far more than a memoir on the devastation that comes with dementia, a cognitive impairment that affects 55 million people worldwide. Finnamore beautifully chronicles her mother’s rich and varied life journey, from her birth in Puerto Rico during the height of the Depression to ferrying to the United States, in hopes of a better life. On U.S. soil, her mother, Bunny, started working as a performer for enlisted men, then became a secretary, and eventually a professional clairvoyant. With unexpected humor, Suzanne explores the feeling of love, grief, family, and loss while celebrating the bonds between mothers and daughters.

In Suzanne’s words, “I want a book that attests to the fact that in a world full of disease, there is an abiding and supernatural force of love. That because of this, the sadness and the horror can be borne. That laughter can live alongside grief. That it must.” When Suzanne’s guest essay “Dementia Is a Place Where My Mother Lives. It Is Not Who She Is” was published in the New York Times on Mother’s Day 2022, readers responded with an outpouring of empathy and love. And so this book was born, full of clues and guidance to help others feel less alone on the path that Finnamore has walked.

Absolutely essential reading for anybody whose journey has been touched by dementia. The preface alone is achingly beautiful, heartbreaking, and unexpectedly funny. –Augusten Burroughs, author of the best-selling memoir, Running with Scissors

“There is Finnamore’s brave and open heart, her eye for what gleams in the rubble, her generosity and humor and confusion and grief, but grace shines on everything. She is also a brilliant writer. I can’t wait to get my hands on this book.” —Abigail Thomas, New York Times bestselling author of What Comes Next and How To Like It

“Suzanne’s memoir about her mother in Dementia is beautiful and consoling and deeply felt, full of both joy and sorrow, and also, not for nothing, gorgeously written. I was stopped in my tracks. It is an astonishing book.” —Elizabeth McCracken, bestselling author of The Souvenir Museum and winner of the PEN New England Award

“This elegant memoir does the impossible: it makes the tragic beautiful. It also offers a service: providing solace to those whose mothers have dementia, showing how best to deal with what we cannot prevent.  Luminous, gripping, unexpectedly funny, Finnamore pays homage to a remarkable life, but she does much more than that. In teaching us how she looks at her own declining mother—with understanding, love, and happiness—Finnamore is, in effect, teaching us how to see.” —Darin Strauss, New York Times bestselling author of Half a Life and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award

My Disappearing Mother: A Memoir of Magic and Loss in the Country of Dementia is a truly stunning piece of writing by Suzanne Finnamore. The magic is real.” —Julie Klam, New York Times bestselling author of The Almost Legendary Morris Sisters