The Last Act of Love

The Story of My Brother and His Sister

4.12 based on 1474 ratings & 202 reviews on

Publication date: 02.07.2015
ISBN: 9781447286400
Number of pages: 0


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.

In the media

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.
The Bookseller
Profoundly moving . . . It is a great achievement to transform such a terrible story - one of a kind with which, as a neurosurgeon, I am painfully familiar - into something rather beautiful and uplifting . . .This book should be read by everybody who has either personal or professional experience of severe head injury and, indeed, by anybody who is concerned by the way our society has such difficulty in accepting that meaningful life is about more than just a beating heart.
New Statesman
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
Sunday Times