The Year My Mother Came Back
by Alice Eve Cohen

Overview - "A riveting journey. " -- Julie Metz, author of Perfection

"A perfect book. I want to tell everyone, every mother, every daughter, to read it." -- Abigail Thomas, bestselling author of A Three Dog Life

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.

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More About The Year My Mother Came Back by Alice Eve Cohen
"A riveting journey." --Julie Metz, author of Perfection

"A perfect book. I want to tell everyone, every mother, every daughter, to read it." --Abigail Thomas, bestselling author of A Three Dog Life

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.

"Alice Eve Cohen's warm, witty, wise memoir is an elixir of love. It captures the struggles of every woman who ever wanted to be a better mother or daughter. Read it and weep, and laugh, and love." --Nancy Bachrach, author of The Center of the Universe

"Funny, painful, absurd, and heartwarming . . . Alice's struggle to accept her imperfect self is a loving message tomothers who struggle to live life with grace. A beautiful book." --Julie Metz, New York Times bestselling author of Perfection

"Cohen navigates what was a perfect storm of a year . . . What she made of this year is a book so honest, so moving, and ultimately so wise that it is a privilege to take the journey with her." --Abigail Thomas, bestselling author of A Three Dog Life

"I love, love, love this book. It's so rich, so real, and so moving . . . An astonishingly wonderful book--I was enthralled." --Caroline Leavitt, bestselling author of Pictures of You

"Compassionate, compelling, and told in luscious prose that practically begs you to sink in and linger, Cohen's imaginative story and its fascinating characters will stay with you long after you've turned the last page." --Jessie Sholl, author of Dirty Secret

This item is Non-Returnable.

  • ISBN-13: 9781616203191
  • ISBN-10: 1616203196
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books
  • Publish Date: March 2015
  • Page Count: 288
  • Dimensions: 7.1 x 5.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.7 pounds

Related Categories

Books > Biography & Autobiography > Personal Memoirs
Books > Family & Relationships > Death, Grief, Bereavement
Books > Family & Relationships > Parenting - Motherhood

BookPage Reviews

A mother lode of treasured advice

The lessons we learn from our mothers shape who we are, even the lessons we don’t particularly appreciate. Those lessons keep coming year after year,  and their most valuable messages stay with us forever.

NPR journalist Scott Simon’s mother was a character in every way, a funny, gorgeous, gracious woman whose last days inspired her son to write Unforgettable: A Son, a Mother, and the Lessons of a Lifetime. Simon’s memoir expands upon tweets he sent to his 1.25 million Twitter followers as his mother lay dying of lung cancer in a Chicago hospital in the summer of 2013.

Her devoted son found his mother so funny and interesting that he decided to share her final moments with the world. As he explains, “She was an old showgirl who gave a great last performance.” And tweets such as this one helped him process what his family was going through: “I just realized: she once had to let me go into the big wide world. Now I have to let her go the same way.”

Patricia Lyons Simon Newman married three times, and over the years, her many jobs included being a model, secretary, typist and an ad agency receptionist. She had worked in nightclubs and dated mobsters, and Simon’s father was an alcoholic comedian.

Simon interweaves memories of their colorful life together with descriptions of their time in the ICU. He recalls frustrating moments when needed medicine was delayed and moments of supreme grace as his mom rallies for a final visit with Simon’s wife. No doubt Patricia Newman would be proud of her son and his extraordinarily compelling, heartfelt tribute.

Alice Eve Cohen certainly has a complicated relationship with motherhood, and it smacked her in the face during a daunting period she chronicles vividly in The Year My Mother Came Back. Strangely, the ghost of her mother suddenly appeared, 31 years after her death, just when Cohen faced seemingly overwhelming personal challenges.

In a previous book, What I Thought I Knew, the divorced mother of an adopted daughter wrote about finding out at age 44 that she was six months pregnant, after years of infertility and months of strange symptoms.

In her latest book, her beloved surprise daughter, Eliana, is an active fourth-grader in need of painful surgery. At the same time, Cohen (now happily married) is diagnosed with breast cancer, just as her mother was years ago. Meanwhile, as Cohen’s older daughter, Julia, is about to leave for college, she gets in touch with her birth mother.

This collision of events results in a maelstrom of emotional upheaval for Cohen, who finds much-needed comfort in the presence of her mother’s spirit: “We revisit events from our past together. Sometimes we just talk. Always, my mother is there and she is not there.”

This thoughtful memoir shows how our past and present remain constantly intertwined, and how being a mother is a complex journey that’s often full of stunning surprises.

Cookbook author Pam Anderson and daughters Maggy Keet and Sharon Damelio, the trio behind the food blog Three Many Cooks, have always centered their lives on food, family and faith. When they began to collaborate on a cookbook, they realized they had much more to share than recipes. The result is a delectable biography of their family’s food history, Three Many Cooks.

They chronicle their “incredible, messy, hilarious, powerful, screwed-up, delicious, and life-changing love affair with food, with one another, and with the people we have come to cherish.” The book is told in alternating chapters by each of the three, with every reflection accompanied by a relevant recipe.

Anderson begins with memories of learning to cook comfort food like chicken and dumplings in the Southern kitchens of her mother, aunt and grandmother. In subsequent chapters she tells how as a young mother and wife of an Episcopal minister, she mastered the styles of Child, Beard and Claiborne.

These well-written, captivating accounts describe such things as Keet’s most memorable meal (at the home of a colleague in Malawi, Africa); the three women’s weight struggles; and an unforgettable dinner to celebrate Anderson’s mother’s 89th birthday.

This book will make readers hungry, not only for the wonderful meals, but for the camaraderie that accompanies each feast. As Pam says of a lunch shared with a dying friend: “I didn’t know it at the time, but this was the moment I started caring less about perfection and more about connection.”

Want to broaden your Mother’s Day experience beyond the greeting-card-and-box-of-candy routine? Dip into the wildly varied essays in Listen to Your Mother: What She Said Then, What We’re Saying Now.

In 2010, blogger Ann Imig (Ann Rants) organized a live reading called “Listen to Your Mother” to celebrate the holiday. It was such a success that more readings have been staged. This collection of the readings is refreshingly diverse, touching and funny. It’s a book that’s easy to dip into and likely to bring immediate rewards.

In “More Than an Aunt, Less Than a Mom,” Jerry Mahoney writes about his husband’s sister’s decision to become an egg donor for their unborn child. This was tricky business for everyone involved, he acknowledges, adding: “But that didn’t mean we shouldn’t proceed. It just meant we’d have to educate people, to show them what a functional family we had and demonstrate that our family, like any other, was built on love.”

No matter what the makeup of a family might be, isn’t that what Mother’s Day is all about?


This article was originally published in the May 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

BAM Customer Reviews