A Richard and Judy Book club selection.
In the summer of 1990, Cathy's brother Matty was knocked down by a car on the way home from a night out. It was two weeks before his GCSE results, which turned out to be the best in his school. Sitting by his unconscious body in hospital, holding his hand and watching his heartbeat on the monitors, Cathy and her parents willed him to survive. They did not know then that there are many and various fates worse than death.
This is the story of what happened to Cathy and her brother, and the unimaginable decision that she and her parents had to make eight years after the night that changed everything. It's a story for anyone who has ever watched someone suffer or lost someone they loved or lived through a painful time that left them forever changed. Told with boundless warmth and affection, The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink is a heartbreaking yet uplifting testament to a family's survival and the price we pay for love.
Beautiful, devastating and ultimately uplifting, intimate and universal all at once . . . Cathy Rentzenbrink has found a way to express the things that all of us wrestle with at times - knowing how to live and taking the risk to love; facing what has damaged us, and owning it as much as a person can. (Jessie Burton, bestselling author of
Profoundly moving . . . The book's real power lies in Rentzenbrink's skill as a writer, her ability to unearth precise and agonising details quietly, with no self-pity or drama . . . it falls into a tradition of beautifully written accounts of grief, such as Joan Didion's
The Year of Magical Thinking . . . Rentzenbrink offers a message of enormous hope for anybody who is going through loss, grief or trauma . . . She emerges from this unflinching memoir with dignity, strength and an enormous heart (
Devastatingly honest and heartbreakingly raw,
The Last Act of Love is not simply a book about grief or love or a family's unstinting hope to do the best for their son and brother. It's a book about courage. About the courage to face reality even at its most bleak. And for all the book's sadness it is, ultimately, a book about hope: about how even the darkest tunnels have a glimmer of light beckoning you at the other end. I defy anyone not to be moved by this remarkable and brave story. (Hannah Beckerman, author of
The Dead Wife's Handbook)
This is a brilliant book. Harrowing and heartbreaking, but also warm and human and healing. It is about a rare kind of tragedy, but feels universal, as it is about love and loss and how we learn to live, in the face of what life throws at us. You may well cry, but you will feel better for having read it, which you absolutely must. A triumph of love. (Matt Haig, author of
Reasons To Stay Alive)
Brilliant. Moving, warm, agonising, unputdownable. One of the best memoirs I've read. (Sophie Hannah, author of
This is a touching and brave book, heartbreaking yet beautiful. (S J Watson)
This lovely, tender, painful book speaks for anyone who has suffered loss, on a scale from minor to cataclysmic . . . which pretty well means us all. (Deborah Moggach, author of the
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)
Extraordinary . . . An honest, heartbreaking, uplifting account of family tragedy. Read it. (Jojo Moyes, author of
Me Before You)
I never knew a story of grief could have so much joy in it. (Nina Stibbe, author of
This is not only an unflinching and powerfully told account of an unimaginably painful family tragedy. It is also an unforgettable meditation on a close sibling relationship, on growing up with grief, on life, love and everything in between. I am in awe of how Cathy has managed to write so bravely and beautifully of something so devastating, and forge such a positive affirmation of familial love from such desperately bleak circumstances. (
A powerful, timely and incredibly moving