Cover image for Last things : a graphic memoir of loss and love
Title:
Last things : a graphic memoir of loss and love
Author:
Moss, Marissa, author.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Newburyport, MA : Conari Press, [2017].
Physical Description:
173 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Summary:
After returning home from a year abroad, Marissa's husband, Harvey was diagnosed with ALS. The disease progressed quickly and Marissa was soon consumed with caring for Harvey while trying to keep life as normal as possible for their children. This is not a story about the redemptive power of terminal illness. It is a story of resilience--of how a family managed to survive a terrible loss and grow in spite of it. It's a powerful example of how staying connected to those who matter most can see us through the most bleak times and how to come through the darkness into the light.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781573246989
Format :
Book

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PS3613 .O7798 A3 2017 Graphic Novel Central Library
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PS3613 .O7798 A3 2017 Adult Fiction Graphic Novels
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Summary

Summary

Last Things is the true and intensely personal story of how one woman coped with the devastating effects of a catastrophic illness in her family.

Using her trademark mix of words and pictures to sharp effect, Marissa Moss presents the story of how she, her husband, and her three young sons struggled to maintain their sense of selves and wholeness as a family and how they continued on with everyday life when the earth shifted beneath their feet.

After returning home from a year abroad, Marissa's husband, Harvey, was diagnosed with ALS. The disease progressed quickly, and Marissa was soon consumed with caring for Harvey while trying to keep life as normal as possible for her young children. ALS stole the man who was her husband, the father of her children, and her best friend in less than 7 months.

This is not a story about the redemptive power of a terminal illness. It is a story of resilience - of how a family managed to survive a terrible loss and grow in spite of it. Although it's a sad story, it's powerfully told and ultimately uplifting as a guide to strength and perseverance, to staying connected to those who matter most in the midst of a bleak upheaval. If you've ever wondered how you would cope with a dire diagnosis, this book can provide a powerful example of what it feels like and how to come through the darkness into the light.

Last Things is one of the most amazingly poignant and honest memoirs - graphic or otherwise -- I've ever encountered. This book - which I read in one insatiable sitting -- tore my heart in two. Moss handles the material with such a delicate sensibility, both with her drawings and her text, I couldn't help but let her carry me along on her journey of love and loss. --- Katie Hafner, contributing writer to The New York Times and author of Mother, Daughter, Me: A Memoir

A gripping portrayal of how devastating ALS can be, but also a powerful example of resilience and hope. --- Dr. Catherine Lomen-Hoerth, neurologist, ALS clinic, UCSF


Author Notes

Marissa Moss began as an illustrator of children's books. She is the author and illustrator of the Amelia series. She has written and illustrated more than 20 children's books including Amelia's Notebook, which was named a 1997 American Booksellers Association Pick of the Lists book. Her other books include Regina's Big Mistake and Knick Knack Paddywack.

My Notebook (with Help from Amelia) also won the 2000 Parent Council Outstanding Award Informational and Oh Boy, Amelia! won the 2001 Parent's Guide to Children's Media Award and the 2002 Children's Choice Award.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Moss, famous for the children's series, Amelia's Notebook, here turns to decidedly adult matters. Readers are invited into her home during one of the most intimate and turbulent times in her family's history, her husband's quick decline and untimely death from ALS. As Harvey starts fading, Moss rises to the occasion of becoming his caretaker, a single parent, and a patient advocate battling insurance and medical equipment companies. She is honest about her failures and shortcomings in each role and candid about the horrors of losing her partner to such a visceral decay. Her signature, playful artistic style offers a much-needed dose of hopefulness when presenting images of sterile hospital recovery rooms and pictures of Harvey breathing through a ventilator plugged into the wall of a gas station after the car battery dies on a long drive home. Moss fully exposes herself as a selfish, sentimental, and wildly resilient human being. The confessional, warts-and-all honesty of Moss' heartbreaking story gives an empowering glimpse into the realities of unexpected loss.--Eathorne, Courtney Copyright 2017 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Deeply affecting and harrowing, Moss's narrative of her husband's struggle with Lou Gehrig's disease begins with Harvey feeling a little out of breath while walking with his wife and sons in Rome, then races through a description of his awful deterioration over the next seven months. An uninformed or uncaring medical establishment doesn't know how to help Harvey cope, leaving his wife to assimilate the physical and emotional changes in their lives. This is not a sentimental story of how suffering ennobles people. Harvey shuts off human contact, desperate to finish the art history research that has been his life's work; Moss is distracted, clinging to her own sanity but horrified to realize how their mutual trust and tenderness are disappearing bit by bit. Moss's deliberately naive drawings effectively accompany her painfully direct text. The fact that the family does endure is impressive, and this book demonstrates how art can transmute suffering into literature. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Moss ("Amelia's Notebook" series) and her children are in Rome with her husband, medievalist-on-sabbatical Harvey Stahl, when Harvey begins to tire easily. Back home in Berkeley, CA, he starts a frustrating regimen of medical tests, ending after two months in diagnosis: ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), or Lou Gehrig's disease. Only seven months later, Harvey is dead at age 61. Moss had expected that she and -Harvey might grow closer in fighting the illness together. But her formerly warm, loving husband retreats into hostile denial. Feeling distraught and emotionally abandoned, she must cater to his escalating medical needs as well as keep the lives of their three boys relatively normal. Moss uses simple line drawings with ink-washed grays for this poignant account. She reveals medical and social details that do not typically appear in patient information materials or in the press, from diagrams of Harvey's breathing equipment to frank descriptions of patient denial and stigma. VERDICT Perhaps the first graphic memoir about a spouse's death, this personal human drama touches on experiences that everyone has sooner or later. An eye-opener for adults and teens concerned about health care.-MC © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


School Library Journal Review

This graphic novel follows one family's struggle with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease. Harvey, a university professor, enjoys traveling and has a loving wife and three sons. He typically takes charge of things at home, but when he is diagnosed with ALS, life changes dramatically for everyone. Though the story is told from the point of view of Harvey's wife (Moss), who becomes his primary caretaker while juggling work and childcare, readers gain tremendous insight into how everyone, including extended family members, deals with the diagnosis. Moss's illustrations convey the intensity of the decisions and occurrences, painting a picture of this trauma that words alone cannot. Additional graphics, such as charts and lists, shed light on the reality of life with ALS. -VERDICT A valuable offering for anyone preparing for or coping with the loss of a family member to disease.-April Sanders, Spring Hill College, Mobile, AL © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.