I’ve been in a reading rut so I was really excited when I read about The Still Point of the Turning World at one of my favorite blogs, Lindsey’s A Design So Vast. Now, I just read a mention of it first, not a review. And I didn’t buy the real thing. I downloaded the Kindle version. So all this is to say, when I started reading, I really wasn’t prepared. And I nearly had to stop reading then and there.
The Still Point of the Turning World is the story of Emily Rapp’s son’s life. At nine months, Ronan is diagnosed with Tay-Sachs, an incurable degenerative neurological disease.
The memoir begins with the moment of Ronan’s diagnosis. I really don’t think I have ever read anything that I felt so physically in my body. Rapp’s realization that her son’s life is over is literally painful to read. I felt like shielding my eyes from the words the way you do when you watch a scary movie. I put the book down and immediately e-mailed Lindsey to figure out how in the world she read and loved the book.
Her response, “The book really is about life, not death.” prodded me to read on and I am so glad I did.
The Still Point of the Turning World, while desperately sad is also powerfully hopeful. While Rapp was forced to watch and live Ronan’s death, the truth is, we are all dying and there is much to learn from the way this family experiences death. Rapp sprinkles in literary references throughout showing both her love of literature and her reliance on it to explain the unexplainable. I couldn’t stop marking Rapp’s own passages and highlighting books and authors that were both familiar and new to me.
As I search the book for quotes to share it is difficult to settle on what pieces of writing best display the power of this book. There are many but for one piece of inspiration, the following…
“We are all trying to escape our existence, hoping that a better version of us is waiting just behind that promotion, that perfect relationship, that award or accolade, that musical performance, that dress size, that raucous night at a party, that hot night with a new lover. Everyone needs to be pursuing something, right? Otherwise, who are we? How about quite simply, people? How about human? This is the great message of Shelley’s Frankenstein. Part of Ronan’s myth was this acknowledgment that we need the freedom to be people, that’s all.”