The Memoir That Will Blow You Away (Plus 7 Other Powerful Picks)
Unexpected stories with heartache and revelations so intense, the experiences can only be real.
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Know the Night: A Memoir of Survival in the Small Hours
224 pages; Simon & Schuster
Available at:Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | IndieBound
For two very long years, Maria Mutch's son Gabriel—who suffers from both Down syndrome and autism—does not sleep at night. Because she has another child, and a husband who has to wake up in the morning, and has to support them both, Mutch and Gabriel hit the road, spending the dark hours until dawn at jazz clubs, where the music calms Gabriel, at least for a while (he falls into "shrieking episodes" that last for whole days). Though Mutch's tenderness for her son never wavers, she does confront her own loneliness and isolation from the rest of world—as well as her exhaustion—by reading the diaries of Richard Byrd, who journeyed solo to Antarctica in the late 1920s, including a nine-month-long stint where he never saw the sun rise. There are moments of heartrending grief, such as when Gabriel says his last words—an eerily prescient "bye," at age 6, and "all done," at age 7. But it's Mutch herself, revealing her struggle to survive as a person, that leaves you astonished, including a moment after cleaning up her son when she admits, "I go to write I am his mother except that what I write is I am his other."
— Leigh Newman