Book Reviews

The Last Act of Love: The Story of My Brother and His Sister by Cathy Rentzenbrink

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List Price: £7.99

 

Paperback: 256 Pages.

Published: 05 May 2016 by Picador

ISBN: 1447286391

EAN: 9781447286394

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.

Reviews

4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars  by Debra Found

Full of Emotion

The author, Cathy Rentzenbrink, writes about the terrible day that changed the lives of herself, her brother and her parents. This was the day when her brother got knocked down by a car leaving him in a persistant vegetative state. The family were left in limbo caring for the body of a man who was empty inside. The author explains her coping methods (or rather not coping) and how this affected her and her parents lives. They struggled at home for years caring for Matty until they realised that their whole lives were centred around caring for a man who was no longer with them. They struggled to come to terms with the idea to pass on his care to professionals in a home and then to consider what was best for the future.

I found this book difficult to read. It wasn't because I got particularly emotional but because I felt that I was entering a private world where I had no right to be. The details about the accident & Matty's subsequent life and how the family were coping was important. However, when the author talks about her years of self abuse with alcoholism, lost focus in her life and mental health problems I got the real sense that the reader was intruding. This book was written by the author to expunge some demons and help her to find closure. She says as much at the end. However, it all got a little too personal for me. I would have felt better with less about her deeper feelings (although the family's feelings were important) and more about the decisions and legal papers leading up to the withdrawal of sustenance.

Maybe I am just a little uncomfortable with too much emotion and that is a fault which lies with me rather than the book. Some books can become wooden or cardboard like without enough emotion but this one contained too much for me and I was certainly uncomfortable.

I hope that the writing of this book has helped the author move on from these terrible years. I also hope that it provides some comfort to people in a similar position - it is so comforting to know you are not alone in how you feel.

 
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