A traumedy about life and death (and every cosmic joke in between), DEAD MOM WALKING: A Memoir of Miracle Cures and Other Disasters by Rachel Matlow is out today from Penguin Canada. 

“This book is perfect. Dead Mom Walking is a deeply funny, incredibly smart, and moving page-turner . . . I just can’t get over what a stunning achievement it is.”
—Zoe Whittall, author of The Best Kind of People
“One of the most powerful stories I’ve read in a long time—intimate, astonishing, harrowing, and redemptive. Dead Mom Walking is such an important book, with lessons for everybody . . . I can’t get it out of my head.”
—Plum Johnson, author of They Left Us Everything
“The characters are so charming you’ll simultaneously want to read the whole thing in one sitting and slow down so you can spend more time with them. Dead Mom Walking will break your heart and then mend it. Read this book; call your mom.”
—Scaachi Koul, author of One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter
“An exquisite paean to the mother-child bond. Rachel’s love for her mother is beautifully expressed from the first page of the book to the last.”
—Catherine Gildiner, author of Good Morning, Monster
“This brilliant memoir had me sobbing and in stitches in equal parts . . . Dead Mom Walking cuts right to the heart.”
—Tegan Quin of Tegan and Sara
“How am I laughing at someone’s mother’s cancer? How? We think we can’t laugh about death, about cancer, about our mothers and their suffering . . . and we can’t, but we can. And there’s so much relief in that. I laughed, I cried, I laughed and laughed and laughed.”
—Carolyn Taylor, Baroness von Sketch Show
“Dead Mom Walking’s jaw-dropping trick is the magically unbiased way it tells the whole story of its subject’s life. Matlow’s kind, determined humour shows it’s possible to endure the irreversible: the loss of the first love of so many lives—our mother. Intricately loving.”
—Thea Lim, author of An Ocean of Minutes

When her mother is diagnosed with cancer, Rachel Matlow is concerned but hopeful. It’s Stage 1, so her mom will get surgery and everything will go back to normal. But growing up in Rachel’s family, there was no normal. Elaine, an alternative school teacher and self-help junkie, was never a capital M “Mommy”–she spent more time meditating than packing lunches–and Rachel, who played hockey with the boys and refused to ever wear a dress, was no ordinary daughter.

When Elaine decides to forgo conventional treatment and heal herself naturally, Rachel is forced to ponder whether the very things that made her mom so special–her independent spirit, her belief in being the author of her own story–are what will ultimately kill her. As the cancer progresses, so does Elaine’s conviction in doing things her way. She assembles a dream team of alternative healers, gulps down herbal tinctures with every meal, and talks (with respect) to her cancer cells. Anxious and confused, Rachel is torn between indulging her pie-in-the-sky pursuits (ayahuasca and all) and pleading with the person who’s taking her mother away.

With irreverence and honesty–and a little help from Elaine’s journals and self-published dating guide, plus hours of conversations recorded in her dying days–Matlow brings her inimitable mother to life on the page. Dead Mom Walking is the hilarious and heartfelt story of what happens when two people who’ve always written their own script go head to head with each other, and with life’s least forgiving plot device.

Rachel Matlow (she/her/they/them) was a long-time producer on the arts and culture program on CBC Radio, where she also worked on Spark and The Sunday Edition. Her audio documentary “Dead Mom Talking” won a 2016 Third Coast award and a 2017 Gabriel award. She has written for The Globe and Mail, National Post, and The Believer. She plays chess every weekend and is forever planning her next long-distance hike. Rachel is represented by Samantha Haywood.