Friday, August 21, 2015

Review: The Year My Mother Came Back by Alice Eve Cohen

Title: The Year My Mother Came Back
Author: Alice Eve Cohen
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publish Date: March 31, 2015
Source: Owned

What's the Story?:

From "Thirty years after her death, Alice Eve Cohen’s mother appears to her, seemingly in the flesh, and continues to do so during the hardest year Alice has had to face: the year her youngest daughter needs a harrowing surgery, her eldest daughter decides to reunite with her birth mother, and Alice herself receives a daunting diagnosis. As it turns out, it’s entirely possible for the people we’ve lost to come back to us when we need them the most.

Although letting her mother back into her life is not an easy thing, Alice approaches it with humor, intelligence, and honesty. What she learns is that she must revisit her childhood and allow herself to be a daughter once more in order to take care of her own girls. Understanding and forgiving her mother’s parenting transgressions leads her to accept her own and to realize that she doesn’t have to be perfect to be a good mother."

My Two Cents:

"The Year My Mother Came Back" is a memoir in which we get a glimpse of the trials and tribulations of mother/ daughter relationships, that most special and intricate bond. The author has lost her mother but as she is going through a difficult time with both of her own daughters as well as trying to fight cancer, her mother appears to her. The author reminisces on her relationship with her mother and her relationship with her children as their mother. Filled with gorgeous prose, this book is a fast read with a lot of weight in meaning.

Memoirs can be difficult. You have to have a compelling story and a compelling way to tell it. In this case, the author has both. The book flashes back between the past and the present (which sometimes got difficult but if you stick with it, the payoff is worth it). The author sees her mother in the present and it sends her reeling into her memories, that were not always that great. 

I liked the way that the author was able to draw comparisons between her role as a daughter and her role as a mother. That role, as I am finding out as a new mother, changes so much. You go from being taken care of to being the caretaker. It is a weird jump. In the book, Cohen is taking care of her almost college age adopted daughter who discovers her biological family and her younger daughter who is going through some incredibly difficult medical issues. This is an unflinching look at the different forms that mother/ daughter relationships take. I suggest this book to those that enjoy memoirs and are fascinated by the intricacies of mother/ daughter relationships.


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