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Sandra Tyler
The Night Garden: of My Mother
Sandra Tyler, author
When her 86-year-old mother falls and breaks her hip, Sandra Tyler is 42, with a nursing infant and precocious toddler. In her forthcoming memoir THE NIGHT GARDEN: OF MY MOTHER (Pierian Springs Press; October 23, 2024), Tyler, the acclaimed author of BLUE GLASS, a New York Times Notable Book of The Year, mines what it means to be divided between the role of mother and daughter, with empathy and affectionate comedy. After this fall, Tyler’s mother insists on hiring her own caregivers—a motley patchwork of lost souls, including the too-friendly who think Scrabble is a good idea. But when she has a near-fatal fall, it is the author who hires a live-in aide, Chandice, who moves into her mother’s house as if it were her own, with her KitchenAid mixer, bake pans, and apple-and-kale concoctions. Where should Tyler’s allegiance lie when her mother threatens to fire Chandice for overloading the washing machine? At what cost to their relationship should she no longer defer to her mother’s staunch guidance? As her mother’s dementia worsens, Chandice warns the author about other daughters “gone crazy” watching their mothers become unrecognizable—after her mother’s death, the author is admitted to a psychiatric ward, where she sleeps the “sleep of the dying,” as her mother slept in her final weeks. But in the timelessness of this ward, she can wonder: was her closeness with her mother not of best friends, but something inherent in their dispositions as a writer and artist—in that compulsion to be seen and heard? The Night Garden candidly explores what it means for a daughter to have her focus fractured by conflicting responsibilities while still seeking, above all else, her mother’s approval, protection and love.