A New York Times bestseller, The Still Point of the Turning World is Emily Rapp's arresting eulogy for her late son Ronan: a mother's experience raising a terminally ill child, and what it taught her about family, grief and parenting.
Like all mothers, Emily Rapp had ambitious plans for her son, Ronan. He would be smart, loyal, physically fearless, level-headed but fun. He would be good at crossword puzzles like his father. He would be an avid skier like his mother. Rapp would speak to him in foreign languages and give him the best education.
But all of these plans changed when Ronan was diagnosed at nine months old with Tay-Sachs disease, a rare and always-fatal degenerative disorder. Ronan was not expected to live beyond the age of three; he would be permanently stalled at a developmental level of six months. Rapp and her husband were forced to re-evaluate everything they thought they knew about raising a family. They would have to learn to live with their child in the moment; to find happiness in the midst of sorrow; to parent without a future.
The Still Point of the Turning World is the story of a mother's journey through grief and beyond it. Rapp's response to her son's diagnosis was a belief that she needed to 'make my world big' - to make sense of her family's situation through art, literature, philosophy, theology and myth. Drawing on a broad range of thinkers and writers, from C.S. Lewis to Sylvia Plath, Hegel to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Rapp learns what wisdom there is to be gained from parenting a terminally ill child.
In luminous, exquisitely moving prose, she re-examines our most fundamental assumptions about what it means to be a good parent, to be a success, and to live a meaningful life.
A brilliant study of the wages of mortal love. - The New York Times
Rapp has written a beautiful and passionate elegy for her son, a book that offers deep wisdom for any reader. - The Boston Globe
A radiant book steeped in deep feelings. - Los Angeles Times
Rapp combines an essayist's willingness to lay herself bare on the page, a theologian's search to plumb the mysteries of life and a poet's precision. - The San Francisco Chronicle
The Still Point of the Turning World begins as a book about a parent's worst fear, a child's death, but it finally becomes a celebration of Ronan's life, a call to action that urges us, its readers, to be fierce in our loves and our lives. - NPR
Stunning. - O Magazine
Agonising and sublime, is one of the greatest books I've read about how to love... An unforgettable, soul-gripping book. - The Australian
Rapp writes with such radiant honesty and intelligence, pulling you close, making you care, teaching us to live in the moment-and love deeply. - Who Magazine
Emily Rapp Black is the author of Poster Child: A Memoir and The Still Point of the Turning World.
A former Fulbright scholar, she was educated at Harvard University, Trinity College-Dublin, Saint Olaf College, and the University of Texas-Austin, where she was a James A. Michener Fellow. A recent Guggenheim Fellowship Recipient, she has received awards and fellowships from the Rona Jaffe Foundation, the Jentel Arts Foundation, the Corporation of Yaddo, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Fundacion Valparaiso, and Bucknell University, where she was the Philip Roth Writer-in-Residence.
Her work has appeared in Vogue, The New York Times, Salon, Slate, Time, The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, Psychology Today, O: The Oprah Magazine, Los Angeles Times, and many others. She is a regular contributor to The New York Times Book Review and frequently publishes scholarly work in the fields of disability studies, bioethics, and theological studies. She is currently associate professor of creative writing at the University of California-Riverside, where she also teaches medical narratives in the School of Medicine.