“The Year My Mother Came Back” by Alice Eve Cohen is one of the most beautiful memoirs I’ve ever read. I love memoirs, because they can be so touching and so very real. And because they are so real, they can hit very, very close to home.
This is the story of the author’s journey through breast cancer treatment, and what interestingly, and unexpectedly, came along with it. One day, her mother, who passed away thirty years ago, appeared at the kitchen table, as if she’d never been gone. The author’s relationship with her mother had been a strained one, and that is what I believe makes this memoir so special. It’s not a story of a woman who was best friends with her mother, or even of a daughter who feels compelled to “work it all out” with the mother she didn’t get on well with.
Instead, this memoir is the story of an everywoman’s struggle with illness while also trying to move somewhat gracefully through daily life, an everymother’s battle to get through the challenges, doubts, fears, and guilt related to her own role as a mother, and an everydaughter’s need to feel mothered and cared for by the woman who raised her. Cohen doesn’t try to fix her relationship with her mother. She simply dwells within that cared-for feeling that her mother gives her when she appears–regardless of what the relationship had been before. She just wants her mom.
I adored this book, and loved the author’s spunky, yet intellectual, writing style. One can tell this is a smart woman, and a woman who truly knows how to portray a feeling in writing. As a daughter who doesn’t have a relationship with her mother, I found this book to be so heartwarming and comforting. I don’t think I’ll ever find good middle ground with my own mother, and I’ll never feel truly mothered by her. But, I can take all of the lessons and hurts and be the kind of mother that I wanted for myself. That is the lesson that was confirmed to me with this memoir…take what you learn, and use it going forward. The past is the past, and what we have now is…well, now.
And, by the way, the cover is smashingly gorgeous. I’m a sucker for a great cover!!
Thank you to the publisher Algonquin Books for providing me with a complimentary pre-release ebook copy of this memoir, via the NetGalley reviewer platform. I was not required to write a review at all, and these opinions are strictly of my own making.