Monday, May 11, 2015

#SRC2015 - The Year my Mother Came Back by Alice Eve Cohen

Genre: Memoir
Published: March 31, 2015
Pages: 288
Ages: 14+


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.


I don't read memoirs often, but when I do, they usually make me think of my creative writing classes in college. This was no exception. To be perfectly honest, I didn't remember that this was a memoir when I started reading because I like to go into books blind. Sure, I read the synopsis when I signed up for the review, but I'd forgotten it by the time I started reading the book. Not remembering that this was a memoir, I truly thought the author was throwing a ridiculous amount of trials at her characters. This book serves to remind me that truth is stranger than fiction, but also that characters that can't catch a single break, real or fictional, is entirely realistic. It's a good thing for me to remember when reading.

The Year my Mother Came Back resonated with me, making me think of my own family relationships. Like Alice, I am my mother's daughter, and while my mother doesn't take me door to door to campaign for equal rights for the oppressed, she is very politically active on Facebook and Twitter, and I imagine that Alice's mother would be too if she were alive today.

While I liked how past and present were interwoven through the book, it was initially rather discombobulating. When the timeline changed, it took me a minute to adjust to the shift and the new frame of mind, and the changes, while marked by breaks in the page, were typically fairly abrupt. There was generally no easing into the memories. In retrospect, it was a lot like having memories thrust on you in real life.

Overall I give this book 4 out of 5 stars because it made me feel introspective and it was relatable for me. I would definitely recommend it to just about anyone who is a daughter or who has a daughter as it provides great insight into the mother/daughter relationship. - Katie 

Buy the Book

About the Author

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.

Other books by Alice Eve Cohen

Because this book is a memoir, it fit solidly in the non-fiction category for my Book Bingo challenge. And being a memoir, it fit perfectly in the Memoir category for the Popsugar challenge. This book was just full of win for me on my challenges.

Other categories it would fulfill include

A book published this year
A book by a female author
A non-fiction book
A book based on a true story
A book I could finish in a day
A book by an author I'd never read before


  1. Great review! I got this on my TBR as well. (Yea BookSparks!) I love memoirs because they talk about the real. (also, I am a bit impartial because I am writing one) I am even more excited to read this now, I didn't remember it was a memoir either, lol.

    1. LOL. Glad I'm not the only person who forgot that little bit of information. I hope you enjoy it when you read it. - Katie