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Rachel Matlow Books In Order

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Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Love. Appropriation. Music. Baby (2007)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Dead Mom Walking: A Memoir of Miracle Cures and Other Disasters (2020)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Rachel Matlow
Rachel Matlow is a non-fiction author best known for her debut novel Dead Mom Walking. This audio documentary won a Gabriel award in 2017 and A Third Coast award in 2016. The author used to be a producer for the arts and culture program on CBC Radio. She also worked with The Sunday Edition, Spark, and written for National Post, The Believer, and The Globe and Mail. In her free time, Matlow enjoys taking long-distance hikes. She also plays a lot of chess during the weekend.

Dead Mum Walking
Dead Mum Walking is a memoir about Rachel Matlow’s mother and her battle with cancer. Growing up, Racheal could see that her mother was no ordinary person. She was an independent spirit who spent most of her time meditating and lost in her world. Racheal and her brother Josh enjoyed their childhood with a mother who let them be themselves without pushing her beliefs down their throats. This not only made them independent, but the author credits her upbringing for her confident and independent nature. Rachel tells of a time she pushed her mother’s buttons hoping that she would react one way only to be surprised with an opposite reaction.

When Racheal’s mum is diagnosed with stage one cancer, she is a bit concerned. However, since the cancer is in stage one, Racheal is hopeful that her mum would get the treatment she needs and get a full recovery. However, she is shocked when her mother decides to heal herself. No amount of coercing will convince Racheal’s mum Elaine to stick to conventional medicine or at least hear what else the doctors could do for her. Together with an army of natural practitioners who sound as inexperienced as she was, Elaine embarked on a self-healing journey. Her routine involved gulping down all kinds of herbal tinctures, talking to the cancer cells, and affirmations.

As a caring daughter, Rachel was devasted that her mother did not want to give conventional doctors a chance. However, she realized that pushing her further would only spoil the great relationship they had cultivated for years. Rachel and Josh watched as their mother’s health deteriorated over five years, and there is nothing much they could do to help. Ultimately, cancer killed Elaine in 2015, but she spent the last years of her life touring the world and enjoying every day the best way she knew how. Sure, conventional medicine would have added more days to Elaine’s life, but she had the most fulfilling years of her life as cancer ravaged her body.

Through this memoir, the author expresses her anxiety and frustration in dealing with a terminally sick mother who decides to take the least traveled route. Racheal wanted her mother to go through surgery so she could be guaranteed of a longer life. Elaine had totally different plans for her life. She was stubborn as she had always been, and Rachel could see that the back and forth was ruining their relationship. While all this was happening, Rachel was going through a rough time at work, which only made things worse for her. However, she found comfort in the times she spent with her mother and family. Rachel also lets us on Elaine’s early life and her unconventional mothering style, making it easier to understand where she was coming from.

Elaine was raised by a mother who depended on her. All the smothering was frustrating, and Elaine swore to be a different mother to her children. She also was to determined to explore all the adventures she missed out on in her early life. It is easy to judge Elaine for the choices she made, especially about her treatment. However, once you look at things from another angle, you will admire her courage and determination to stick to her beliefs. Elaine enjoyed her life, and she managed to raise two headstrong and highly independent children.

This is an interesting book with many laugh-out moments. However, some parts are hard to read, especially for someone who has watched a loved one go through cancer’s devastating effects. The part about the fourth stage of cancer is particularly devastating. The family knew that their beloved mum had limited time and had to make the necessary arrangements for her sendoff. With humor and honesty, Matlow brings her mother to life on these pages. Racheal also borrows from Elaine’s journals and the conversations she had with her mother on her last days. The story is characterized by love and the often complex experiences when those close to us face harsh life situations.

Even though Rachel would have chosen a different route for her mother’s treatment, she is forced to live with her choices. It is admirable that she remains a loving daughter who gives her mom the love and support she needed until the end. Long after her death, Racheal had to take a critical look at her mother’s life to understand her decisions. There is a reason why Elaine was different, and her daughter had to understand this in order to accept her choices.

Dead Mum Walking Alive is a heartfelt yet hilarious story. Matlow writes about a strong, stubborn woman who did not let anyone dictate her life and the joys she experienced until her last days. The author also shows what happens when two strong people attempt a contest. There are many moments that will make you laugh. Do not be surprised if you shed a tear or two, especially towards the end of the book. Through Rachel’s story, we learn about the deep grief when someone accompanies another to their end of life. It takes courage, a lot of love, and a high emotional cost. Rachel’s humor is evident from the first page, and it is also easy to see how much she loved her mother. While the book touches on terminal illness and death, it is not a downer. It explores the loving relationship between a parent and a child and how the mind deals with healing and trauma.

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