Friday, June 5, 2015

BOOKSPARKS SUMMER READING CHALLENGE: The Year My Mother Came Back, by Alice Eve Cohen

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Destination: Find the miraculous in Manhattan

Synopsis: For the first time in decades I’m remembering Mom, all of her--the wonderful and terrible things about her that I’ve cast out of my thoughts for so long. I’m still struggling to prevent these memories from erupting from their subterranean depths. Trying to hold back the flood. I can’t, not today. The levees break.


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.


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My review: This book tells the story of mother-daughter relationships--the author and her mother, as well as the author and her daughters. The book goes back and forth between the past and the present but does so seamlessly.

The year described in this book was filled with hurdles for the author: her own struggle with breast cancer (including a lumpectomy and radiation), her oldest daughter's blossoming relationship with her birth family,and her youngest daughter's recovery from bone lengthening surgery. In the midst of it, Cohen has "visits" with her mother, who has been dead for thirty years.

I was touched by so much of this story...I laughed, I cried, I felt the frustration and confusion. A GREAT way to start off my summer reading this year!

My rating: Five stars




About this author
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Alice Eve Cohen is a writer and solo theatre artist. Her new memoir, THE YEAR MY MOTHER CAME BACK, is published by Algonquin Books, March 31, 2015. Winner of Elle's Magazine Grand Prize for Nonfiction, Oprah Magazine’s 25 Best Books of Summer, and Salon's Best Books of the Year for her memoir, "What I Thought I Knew" (Penguin). She has written for Nickelodeon, CTW, and
CBS, and has toured her solo shows nationally and internationally. Alice has received fellowships and grants from the NYS Council on the Arts and the NEA. She graduated from Princeton University and got her MFA from The New School. Alice teaches at The New School and lives with her family in New York City. She is currently working on a novel.


1 comment:

Diane Coto said...

Hi, Teresa - I really like the sound of this one. Thanks for your review! :)
@dino0726 from 
FictionZeal - Impartial, Straighforward Fiction Book Reviews