The Last Act of Love

The Last Act of Love, Cathy Rentzenbrink’s account of her brother Matty’s traumatic brain injury and consequent permanent vegetative state, was the first non-fiction book read by our neurology book club. This acclaimed memoir charts the family’s 8-year journey, starting with the initial shock of Matty’s accident and hopes for recovery, through a growing acceptance of his irreversible neurological impairment, and his eventual death following withdrawal of clinically assisted nutrition and hydration. Rentzenbrink’s prose vividly portrays her grief at the loss of her brother, and the lasting impact of his injury on her life. Through her eyes we also witness reactions of family, friends and society at large, both illuminating and poignant.

The prominent theme of the first part of the book is the emotional challenge faced by the family in dealing with Matty’s vegetative state, a grey area between the certainties of life and death. The author goes from praying…

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