Sanctuary: Book summary and reviews of Sanctuary by Emily Rapp Black

Sanctuary by Emily Rapp Black X
Sanctuary by Emily Rapp Black
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  • Publishes in USA 
    Jan 19, 2021
    240 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

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

"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 Rapp Black pause. Her first child, a boy named Ronan, had died from Tay-Sachs disease before he turned three years old, an experience she wrote about in her second book, The Still Point of the Turning World. Since that time, her life had changed utterly: She left the marriage that fractured under the terrible weight of her son's illness, got remarried to a man who she fell in love with while her son was dying, had a flourishing career, and gave 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 still 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 those words mean, really?

This book 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 and overcoming the odds, knowing that we may be asked to rebuild and reimagine our lives at any moment, and often when we least expect it. 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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Rapp Black shines in this stirring account of life after the death of her son Ronan...The prose is lyrical and hypnotic but never overwrought or contrived. This is a mesmerizing and unforgettable tale." - Publishers Weekly

"[S]tirring...[Rapp Black] employs a variety of metaphors—dark matter in one chapter, butterflies in another—which may leave some readers impatient even as they clearly delineate her abiding mental state. A searing, uncompromising effort to wrestle with permanent grief." - Kirkus Reviews

"Sanctuary opens up the space between life and death in order to show us how love gets born over and over again—a fierce and unflinching love, a love that has to travel trauma and truth to evolve. Emily Rapp Black's book is a precise and complex articulation of a journey that has nothing to do with the puny hero's journey. It's bigger than that. It's the story of the relationship between creation and decreation as it lives in the bodies of women. This book will give us better ways to tell the stories of motherhood, desire, despair, resistance, and resilience. This book will change lives." - Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Book of Joan and The Small Backs of Children

"Sanctuary is an absolute marvel—gorgeous and bold, astonishing in insight and unsparing in candor. With aching vulnerability and compassion, Emily Rapp Black maps the topography of heartrending loss and erects upon it a refuge of otherworldly resilience. As a writer, a mother, and a woman, Rapp Black is a profound inspiration—not because she's fearless but because she's courageous. To understand the distinction, read this beautiful book." - Bret Anthony Johnston, author of Remember Me Like This

"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 Black 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, in 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

This information about Sanctuary shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Emily Rapp Black Author Biography

Photo: Anne Staveley

Emily Rapp Black was born in Nebraska in 1974, and grew up in Wyoming and Colorado. Born with a congenital defect, her left foot was amputated at age four, and she has worn a prosthetic limb ever since.

A former Fulbright scholar, she was educated at Harvard University, Saint Olaf College, Trinity College-Dublin, and the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a James A. Michener Fellow.

Emily Rapp is the author of Poster Child: A Memoir. She is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Writers' Award, a James A. Michener Fellowship at the University of Texas-Austin, and the Philip Roth Writer-in-Residence fellowship at Bucknell University. She is currently professor of creative writing and literature at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design and a faculty member in the University of ...

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  • The Still Point of the Turning World jacket
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