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‘A powerful memoir of love and loss, which are two sides of the same coin’ – Julia Samuel, bestselling author of Grief Works and This Too Shall Pass

‘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

*NYT EDITORS’ CHOICE*

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.

‘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

‘An absolute marvel. As a writer, a mother, and woman, 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, New York Times bestselling author of Remember Me Like This

‘Not since When Breath Becomes Air has a memoir conveyed such profound loss, alongside such luminous and life-affirming love.’
Adrienne Brodeur, author of Wild Game

Reviews

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
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 woman, 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, New York Times bestselling author of REMEMBER ME LIKE THIS
In these pages, Emily Rapp Black excavates the meaning of 'resilience,' putting aside brittle clichés about heroism and strength to uncover a richer, messier, more beautiful picture of what it means to live amidst both love and loss. This 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
Sanctuary is a book of rare power and grace. Emily Rapp explores the language and metaphors we use to describe life and loss, mining them for what's helpful and what's wanting. She tells unforgettable stories-some heartbreaking, many joyful-about being the mother of two children, one dead and one living, and in doing so reminds us that we can dwell in grief and gratitude at the same time. 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
A powerful memoir of love and loss, which are two sides of the same coin.
Julia Samuel, bestselling author of Grief Works and This Too Shall Pass
Black movingly recounts her struggle to live fully-without forgetting.
People Magazine
Black's power as a writer means she can take us with her to places that normally our minds would refuse to go.... [an] often beautiful jewel of a book.
New York Times Book Review
There's a swagger to Black's prose.
LA Times
[Black] writes with elegant poise and a tenderness that is equal parts raw and generous... [Black] writes with fierce honesty and zero sentimentality, in a way that distinguishes her from many others who write about grief and trauma.... Rapp Black's exquisite prose is as compelling as her intellectual rigor... In the end, Sanctuary is not a memoir of grief or of survival, but rather simply a story about living.
LA Review of Books
This open and frank reflection centers on what it means to be resilient... A must for fans of Rapp's previous memoirs and for any reader trying to better understand grief and trauma.
Library Journal
Rapp Black shines in this stirring account .... Rapp Black asserts that, in life, resilience requires no extraordinary measures because life itself-with its inevitable losses-demands resilience for survival. The prose is lyrical and hypnotic but never overwrought or contrived. This is a mesmerizing and unforgettable tale.
Publishers Weekly
A meticulous examination of the aftershocks of the loss of a child.... A searing, uncompromising effort to wrestle with permanent grief.
Kirkus Reviews
A raw, vulnerable examination of resilience and living with both loss and joy.
Working Moms
In this probing memoir, Emily Rapp Black shares her journey as a mother split in two by the painful past and the joyful present.
Booklist
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. [...] This book will change lives.
Lidia Yuknavitch
There's no handbook for loss, but there are these pages and Rapp Black's beautiful, breathtaking language that lifts and rises. I've thrown books about grief across the room in rage at their uselessness. Not this book. It will carry you. Rapp Black has again opened the door to her generous heart and let us in - and what beats there is holy and fierce and life-giving.
Sarah Sentilles
She transitions from the torturous present tense of watching a child slowly die to living in a future of possibility. ... Black's power as a writer means she can take us with her to places that normally our minds would refuse to go.
Judith Warner, New York Times