My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - < 1 day
Pages - 243
Publisher - Picador
Blurb from Goodreads
In the summer of 1990 - two weeks before his GCSE results, which turned out to be the best in his school - Cathy Rentzenbrink's 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 family's 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. It's 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 one's life might be more heartbreaking than saying goodbye.
I didn't read the blurb from this book when it came through so I wasn't too sure what the book was about. The first chapter sets you straight on that, Cathy is at the hospital, years melt away and we go back to life before the accident. Cathy and her brother are close, teenagers on the brink of their adult life. When Matty is hit by a car and left with horrific brain injury, Cathy and her family have to learn to cope and look after Matty and deal with this new life. From praying for his recovering, learning acceptance of his condition and finally undertaking the heartbreaking decision to do what is right for Matty and say goodbye.
I could have read this one sitting, sadly I had to keep putting it down to concentrate on my essay, however I read it in less than 24 hours. This is an honest and heart wrenching story of a families loss of a vibrant member of their family. Of learning how to give medical care to keep Matty alive and well cared for. To coming to terms with the harsh reality of his condition, trying to cope with loss, guilt, love, emotions, hope and the devastating truth. Medical and legal processes, trying to keep a family together after one of the most devastating life changing events and taking the reading on this brutally honest and emotional journey.
It isn't often after reading a book you want to reach out and hug an author, after this book I did. An honest account of one of the hardest aspects of a persons life and the decisions and thoughts that follow. Rentzenbrink opens up her world of hurt and devastation with such emotion that you can't help but be touched by what their family had to endure. Grief is not always just about death and The Last Act of Love opens up a different view of what the other side can be like. Bless him and his family, reading this tale will make you want to hug your loved ones tighter. Reading this book is a bit of a roller coaster of emotion, you can't help but be drawn into the families heartache and I think this will conjure up memories and personal loss for some readers. 5/5 for me, I feel I could go on and on about this book, it will certainly stay with me long after putting it down. Thanks so much to Waterstones for sending me a copy of this in exchange for an honest review and a chance to read a book I may not have normally considered.