The Year My Mother Came Back Analysis

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Memoirs aren’t really my “thing.” I have read precious few during my many years as an active reader, and most have been because I know the author’s professional work (Melissa Gilbert’s Prairie Girl, and Cary Elwes’ As You Wish come to mind) and wish to know personal anecdotes about that time in his or her life. Therefore, I was not overly enthusiastic to be assigned a memoir called The Year My Mother Came Back, written by an author who was wholly unfamiliar to me, as my first “real” college assignment. It is not often that I am glad to be proved wrong, but this was one such scenario. Alice Eve Cohen’s The Year My Mother Came Back is a poignant but uplifting tale that examines the general mother-daughter dynamic as applied to multiple relationships…show more content…
Cohen does not shy away from embarrassing or potentially self-vilifying anecdotes such as her accidental acid trip at age fourteen—“another camper slipped acid into my hive medicine and I unwittingly tripped for the first time” (Cohen, 2015, p. 198)—and her feelings when her husband helps her oldest daughter, Julia, find her birth mother—“So why am I so angry? After Brad hangs up, I slam down the receiver, put my face in my hands and groan” (Cohen, 2015, p. 111)—in a valiant effort to transcribe the whole truth. Her method effectively humanizes her and gives her a sort of credibility: if Cohen wouldn’t lie to make herself look better, why would she lie to better anyone else? Thus, she writes a persuasive narrative as she weaves her tale. Cohen also effectively uses clear progression of thought to illustrate her burgeoning empathy toward her mother. She starts out with passages such as “My mother has become a character from a story I used to know; a face from an old photograph, the colors faded, her features blurry” (Cohen, 2015, p. 13), and, after her internal revelations, uses a kinder, more endearing vocabulary to describe her enigmatic mother: “My brilliant, beautiful, complicated mother” (Cohen, 2015, p. 45), “This loving and beloved woman was my mother, as were all her other shape-shifting incarnations” (Cohen, 2015, p. 419). Cohen’s method of understanding her mother may have been unorthodox, but her end result is not an uncommon experience; in the documentary The Story of Mother and Daughters, one interviewed woman says, “Mothers need to meet their daughters again after they reach maturity” (Weimberg, 2010). Coping Together, Side by Side: Enriching Mother-Daughter Communication Across the Breast Cancer Journey also comments on this dynamic,
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