The Last Act of Love by Cathy RentzenbrinkIn the summer of 1990 - two weeks before his GCSE results, which turned out to be the best in his school - Cathy Rentzenbrinks brother Matty was knocked down by a car on the way home from a night out, suffering serious head injuries. He was left in a permanent vegetative state. Over the following years, Cathy and her parents took care of Matty - they built an extension onto the village pub where they lived and worked; they talked to him, fed him, bathed him, loved him. But there came a point at which it seemed the best thing they could do for Matty - and for themselves - was let him go. With unflinching honesty and raw emotional power, Cathy describes the unimaginable pain of losing her brother and the decision that changed her familys lives forever. As she delves into the past and reclaims memories that have lain buried for many years, Cathy reconnects with the bright, funny, adoring brother she lost and is finally able to see the end of his life as it really was - a last act of love. Powerful, intimate and intensely moving, this is a personal journey with universal resonance - a story of unconditional love, of grief, survival and the strength of the ties that bind. Its a story that will speak to anyone who has lost someone close to them, to anyone who has fiercely loved a sibling, and to anyone who has ever wondered whether prolonging a loved ones life might be more heartbreaking than saying goodbye.
The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink - Book Review
The Last Act of Love Reviews
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A powerful, timely and incredibly moving memoir in the bestselling tradition of Blake Morrison, Joan Didion and Ruth Picardie. The Last Act of Love is Rentzenbrink's account of how they came to that decision; an attempt to work through the guilt she felt at wanting her brother to die, not just for his sake but also to release her and allow her to live again. It's not an easy read. Rentzenbrink has a powerful voice, unsparing in the details of Matty's condition - the blood on her trousers where she had knelt on the road beside him, the 4in crater in his skull, the "stale, sweaty smell hanging around him". She's also unflinchingly honest about her reactions to the accident and its impact on her family. His art remains so.
The Last Act of Love is a memoir, and a rather devastating one. It tells the story of Cathy Rentzenbrink and her family coming to terms with a horrific accident involving her younger brother Matty and its heartbreaking aftermath. It never, at any time, feels exploitative. The opposite, in fact. And the misery is offset by warmth and gentle humour. The early chapters are great at capturing vivid teenage moments.
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I did not know then that there is a world between the certainties of life and death, that it is not simply a case of one or the other, and that there are many and various fates worse than death. When we think of love, what do we think of? Romantic love, parental love, friendship — all are widely covered in the pages of books. Accounts of sibling relationships are harder to find, yet for many of us it is one of the most profound relationships of our lives; one of our earliest encounters with love, one which stays with us throughout our lives. In , when Matty was just weeks away from getting his GCSE results, he was in a hit and run accident and left in a permanent vegetative state. This book is the love that came before this event and what happens in the aftermath of tragedy.