How to Forget: Kate Mulgrew achingly details her parents’ suffering

Book review: The Star Trek actor spares nothing in this memoir about caring for her parents

Actor Kate Mulgrew’s story will feel familiar to anyone who has cared for elderly relatives. Photograph: Leon Bennett/WireImage

Actor Kate Mulgrew’s story will feel familiar to anyone who has cared for elderly relatives. Photograph: Leon Bennett/WireImage

You might have heard of Kate Mulgrew. She played Capt Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager, and “Red” on Orange Is the New Black. You won’t have heard of Thomas James Mulgrew or Joan Kiernan, her parents, whom How to Forget, her second memoir, is about.

On the front cover, two figures, presumably Tom and Joan, are pictured leaning into a kiss. Tom stands upright, hands by his sides, while Joan leans forward, hands behind her back. There is at least a foot of space between their bodies. Their lips are about an inch apart. Their shadows extend into the background, which is a copse of trees, leaves scattered over the ground. Another shadow extends, too: that of the person taking the photograph. Within the book, on the reverse side of the first page, is another photograph, this time of a lonely patch of trees. There are no people, or shadows.

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