Sanctuary

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What to expect

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Still Point of the Turning World – an incisive memoir about how she came to question and redefine the concept of resilience after the trauma of her first child’s death.

‘A lyrical, deep, funny, eyes-wide-open, ultimately comforting book. I adored it, and – if you are searching for how to live in a broken world – so will you’ – Lucy Kalanithi

‘A book of rare power and grace… Reading this extraordinarily thoughtful writer and her luminous prose was, for me, sanctuary’ – Will Schwalbe, New York Times bestselling author of The End of Your Life Book Club

‘Every once in a while, a book comes along that ushers us to the very center of a profound truth that we don’t so much learn, as recognize. Emily Rapp takes us there in SANCTUARY’ – Dani Shapiro, New York Times bestselling author of Inheritance

A searing memoir of a mother’s love, the meaning of resilience and the possibilities of life after grief from the New York Times bestselling author of The Still Point of the Turning World.

‘Congratulations on the resurrection of your life,’ a colleague wrote to Emily Rapp Black when she announced the birth of her second child. The line made Emily pause. Her first child, Ronan, had died before he turned three years old from Tay-Sachs disease, an experience she wrote about in her first book, The Still Point of the Turning World. Since that time her life had changed utterly: she had left the marriage that fractured under the terrible weight of her son’s illness, remarried the love of her life, had a flourishing career, and given birth to a healthy baby girl.

But she rejected the idea that she was leaving her old life behind – that she had, in the manner of the mythical phoenix, risen from the ashes and been reborn into a new story, when she carried so much of her old story with her. More to the point, she wanted to carry it with her. Everyone she met told her she was resilient, strong, courageous in ways they didn’t think they could be. But what did these words mean, really?

Sanctuary is an attempt to unpack the various notions of resilience that we carry as a culture. Drawing on contemporary psychology, neurology, etymology, literature, art and self-help, Emily Rapp Black shows how we need a more complex understanding of this concept when applied to stories of loss and healing. Interwoven with lyrical, unforgettable personal vignettes from her life as a mother, wife, daughter, friend and teacher, Rapp Black creates a stunning tapestry that is full of wisdom and insight.

(P) 2021 Penguin Random House Audio

Critics Review

  • PRAISE FOR THE STILL POINT OF THE TURNING WORLD: ‘A brilliant study of the wages of mortal love’

    New York Times
  • A radiant book steeped in deep feelings

    Los Angeles Times
  • A beautiful and passionate elegy for her son, a book that offers deep wisdom for any reader

    The Boston Globe
  • Emily Rapp didn’t want to tell this story. She had to. That necessity is evident in every word of this intelligent, ferocious, grace-filled, gritty, astonishing starlight of a book

    Cheryl Strayed, best-selling author of WILD
  • PRAISE FOR SANCTUARY: Not since When Breath Becomes Air has a memoir conveyed such profound loss, alongside such luminous and life-affirming love. With exquisitely precise prose, Emily Rapp Black describes what it is like to mother a dead boy and an alive girl simultaneously, being pulled in both directions, juggling sorrow and guilt, but moving toward light and life. Sanctuary broke my heart and mended it, expanding it through truth and beauty.

    Adrienne Brodeur, author of Wild Game
  • Every once in a while, a book comes along that ushers us to the very center of a profound truth that we don’t so much learn, as recognize. Emily Rapp takes us there in SANCTUARY, reminding us in achingly beautiful prose that pain and pleasure, grief and aliveness exist not apart, but together in the dark matter, the liminal space we occupy when we do what the living do: we love, we love, we love.

    Dani Shapiro, New York Times bestselling author of INHERITANCE

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