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Last Things: A Graphic Memoir of Loss and Love

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Last Things is the true and intensely personal story of how one woman coped with the devastating effects of a catastrophic illness in her family. Using her trademark mix of words and pictures to sharp effect, Marissa Moss presents the story of how she, her husband, and her three young sons struggled to maintain their sense of selves and wholeness as a family and how they co Last Things is the true and intensely personal story of how one woman coped with the devastating effects of a catastrophic illness in her family. Using her trademark mix of words and pictures to sharp effect, Marissa Moss presents the story of how she, her husband, and her three young sons struggled to maintain their sense of selves and wholeness as a family and how they continued on with everyday life when the earth shifted beneath their feet. After returning home from a year abroad, Marissa's husband, Harvey, was diagnosed with ALS. The disease progressed quickly, and Marissa was soon consumed with caring for Harvey while trying to keep life as normal as possible for her young children. ALS stole the man who was her husband, the father of her children, and her best friend in less than 7 months. This is not a story about the redemptive power of a terminal illness. It is a story of resilience--of how a family managed to survive a terrible loss and grow in spite of it. Although it's a sad story, it's powerfully told and ultimately uplifting as a guide to strength and perseverance, to staying connected to those who matter most in the midst of a bleak upheaval. If you've ever wondered how you would cope with a dire diagnosis, this book can provide a powerful example of what it feels like and how to come through the darkness into the light.


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Last Things is the true and intensely personal story of how one woman coped with the devastating effects of a catastrophic illness in her family. Using her trademark mix of words and pictures to sharp effect, Marissa Moss presents the story of how she, her husband, and her three young sons struggled to maintain their sense of selves and wholeness as a family and how they co Last Things is the true and intensely personal story of how one woman coped with the devastating effects of a catastrophic illness in her family. Using her trademark mix of words and pictures to sharp effect, Marissa Moss presents the story of how she, her husband, and her three young sons struggled to maintain their sense of selves and wholeness as a family and how they continued on with everyday life when the earth shifted beneath their feet. After returning home from a year abroad, Marissa's husband, Harvey, was diagnosed with ALS. The disease progressed quickly, and Marissa was soon consumed with caring for Harvey while trying to keep life as normal as possible for her young children. ALS stole the man who was her husband, the father of her children, and her best friend in less than 7 months. This is not a story about the redemptive power of a terminal illness. It is a story of resilience--of how a family managed to survive a terrible loss and grow in spite of it. Although it's a sad story, it's powerfully told and ultimately uplifting as a guide to strength and perseverance, to staying connected to those who matter most in the midst of a bleak upheaval. If you've ever wondered how you would cope with a dire diagnosis, this book can provide a powerful example of what it feels like and how to come through the darkness into the light.

30 review for Last Things: A Graphic Memoir of Loss and Love

  1. 4 out of 5

    Greta G

    At the end of their sabbatical year in Rome, things start to go wrong. Harvey is tired all the time and gasping for breath. He also starts to stutter. The doctors have no idea what’s wrong. Only months later, he’s diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Regular ALS starts with weakness in the arms and legs. Eventually you end up in a wheelchair, completely immobile. When you can’t breathe anymore, you die, usually five to seven years after the diagnosis. But Harvey has Bulbar ALS, which star At the end of their sabbatical year in Rome, things start to go wrong. Harvey is tired all the time and gasping for breath. He also starts to stutter. The doctors have no idea what’s wrong. Only months later, he’s diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Regular ALS starts with weakness in the arms and legs. Eventually you end up in a wheelchair, completely immobile. When you can’t breathe anymore, you die, usually five to seven years after the diagnosis. But Harvey has Bulbar ALS, which starts with the tongue and throat muscles. Death is generally two years after the diagnosis. The impact of the diagnosis on Harvey is drastic. Harvey retreats in his office and shuts his wife Marissa and their three young sons out. Marissa doesn’t recognize this man anymore. “Harvey’s not sad. He’s furious. At me. He’s never yelled at me before. Now, in an instant, my warm, loving husband for nearly twenty years is cold with rage. It’s shock, I tell myself. Later we’ll cry together, hold each other. But we don’t. I’m sealed off in the Land of the Not–Dying.” Harvey’s health condition deteriorates quickly, and Marissa is soon consumed with caring for Harvey while trying to keep life as normal as possible for her young children. “Do the boys understand what’s happening to us? Is it better for them to know or not know? How do you make a father’s dying easier for a child? I have no answers, no idea what to do. And Harvey won’t help. Or maybe he can’t.” The enormity of what Marissa is responsible for is crushing. Harvey is the one she’d turn to for help with all this. Only she can’t. She has to face it all alone. Maybe Harvey needs to be distant. Maybe that’s how he faces death. “Is dying like that? Something that takes all your focus, all your concentration? A physical demand that strips away your sense of self? Have I already lost Harvey to the process of dying?” Marissa Moss’s sad story hit me hard. This is a poignant story of how she, her husband and their children struggled to cope with Harvey’s terminal illness. Her writing as well as her black-and-white illustrations are straightforward and honest. This is a book that’s impossible to put down once you start reading it. “The pace of the disease still surprises me. We plunge down its steep slope, flailing desperately to stay upright, until we skid to a halt. Before we have time to assess the new landscape, the ground shifts again, pulling us down with it. There is no status quo to get used to, only the dizzying wrenching of our feet out from under us, the powerful, inexorable avalanche of the disease’s progression.” In addition to writing this book, she also finished the book Harvey —who was a medieval art historian— had been working on for more than fifteen years, Picturing Kingship: History and Painting in the Psalter of Saint Louis, a book about King Louis IX’s personal psalter. “Writing is a way for me to find myself again and to reclaim Harvey, who he was before he got sick. Reading his words is like having a conversation with him again, hearing how he thinks, his passion for art and history.”

  2. 5 out of 5

    Calista

    Heartbreaking! This story is a difficult and sad story that will break your heart. Marissa Moss is writing a Memoir about her family dealing with the time her husband came down with Bulbar ALS or a worse kind of Lou Gerrigs Disease. This is a horrible disease to have. There is no dignity in this at all. Reading this gives me the overwhelming sense of how much Marissa loved her husband because she had to go through so much hell. I can't believe the things she had to do. It was monumental what she Heartbreaking! This story is a difficult and sad story that will break your heart. Marissa Moss is writing a Memoir about her family dealing with the time her husband came down with Bulbar ALS or a worse kind of Lou Gerrigs Disease. This is a horrible disease to have. There is no dignity in this at all. Reading this gives me the overwhelming sense of how much Marissa loved her husband because she had to go through so much hell. I can't believe the things she had to do. It was monumental what she endured. Her husband pulled away from her and the family and went internal in a place of denial and anger, and who can blame him, but he didn't do himself any favors. Every decision he made, just about was a bad one. The saddest part to me what how he left his children in the cold. He didn't try to keep the kids in his life and his children seemed to suffer for it as their mom did her best. He made Marissa choose between him and the boys in the end and she had to choose life, and her boys. I can't imagine how agonizing that would be. Marissa made some of the toughest choices a person could have to make in life. So much happens and there are so many disturbing developments as the disease ate away at Harvey. Harvey couldn't swallow well and he could barely choke his food down. That would be awful to listen to daily. He would also have salvia build-up in his lungs and had to suction out the fluid so he could breath. It was a 24 hour job. The suctioning had to take place about every 15 minutes. This whole thing is horrible. It should not be allowed to exist and yet it does and what a family bomb it is. It just blows them up. Harvey choose to finish a book he was working on for 16 years and he didn't finish it, but Marissa took 4 years and she finished it for him after he died. It was a very beautiful part of the book that really tied it up nicely or as nicely as this nightmare could be tied up. She also published this book to sort out her feelings and memories of this time of no sleep and constant pressure, a distant husband who left her and would hardly talk to her and her children needed so much during this time. I tell you, this powerful story is heartbreaking and powerful. It is a beautiful little book in its own way. About the worst case scenario in life.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

    Marissa Moss is the author of more than 40 books, most of them in her fictional children's series, Amelia's Notebooks, about what it means to be a girl at nine or ten, and so on. I had recently read her story of baseball in Japanese internment camps during WWII, Barbed Wire Baseball, and liked it, but this is a very different subject for her: The story of her husband's decline and death from ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease, and it is really well and powerfully told, with searing honest. Everyone in Marissa Moss is the author of more than 40 books, most of them in her fictional children's series, Amelia's Notebooks, about what it means to be a girl at nine or ten, and so on. I had recently read her story of baseball in Japanese internment camps during WWII, Barbed Wire Baseball, and liked it, but this is a very different subject for her: The story of her husband's decline and death from ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease, and it is really well and powerfully told, with searing honest. Everyone in the family handles the disease differently, but as Moss tells it, the most painful part of it for her was the separation between her and her loving husband that happens almost from the beginning. He's angry as hell, and whys shouldn't he be?! How would you handle it? Sometimes life challenges make you come together, but sometimes you fall apart, and maybe it's useful to know this so you can be prepared for your own emotional reactions to trauma. Sure, it's about ALS, so as you can imagine it is nasty, brutal, and inexorable, and sure, it is sad, but my main emotional reaction was admiration for Moss's storytelling. I want to thank her for taking the time to tell her family story; it is very useful in helping us see (or remember, for some of us) the emotional effects of serious illness on a family. I highly recommend it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    When I finished this VERY POWERFUL STORY ......one of the most honest graphic memoirs - or any memoir for that matter - about how a family functioned and survived a terrible loss and grew in spite of it....I wanted to reach out and hug the author....and thank her personally and deeply for writing and illustrating this book. My god — I couldn’t imagine being in Marissa Moss’s shoes with three young boys when her husband, Harvey, was diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. What stands out in t When I finished this VERY POWERFUL STORY ......one of the most honest graphic memoirs - or any memoir for that matter - about how a family functioned and survived a terrible loss and grew in spite of it....I wanted to reach out and hug the author....and thank her personally and deeply for writing and illustrating this book. My god — I couldn’t imagine being in Marissa Moss’s shoes with three young boys when her husband, Harvey, was diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. What stands out in this story is RAW TRUTH ....not noble caregiving. Marissa Moss doesn’t hold back from articulating how serious an illness affects a marriage and a family. The story and illustrations - together - create so much intimacy. Even when Marissa would swim early mornings - in the dark - with the master swim program - I felt like I was in that pool with her listening to her thoughts. And when she was on the phone speaking to doctors and/or insurance companies with each child needing something - I wanted to scream.... ‘for her’. Life goes on.... be it a Bar Mitzvah- school projects - SCHOOL - food...( condiments are not exactly snacks or meals). And? How about everyone understanding a disease -- starting from ground zero... with each family member dealing differently? The part of this book that brought me tears of deep pride - and I don’t even know this family to feel the amount of pride I feel - is what Marissa wrote in ‘The Author’s Notes’.....and even the ‘ acknowledgment’. Again....I wanted to tell Marissa how moved I am! This book touched me deeply - and for those who have any doubts about the impact of a graphic Book....read this one!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    With sincere thanks to Red Wheel Weiser Conari / Hampton Roads, Edelweiss and the author Marcia Moss, who provided this e-galley to be published May, 1, 2017. Highly Recommended Last Things: A Graphic Memoir of Loss and Love is an emotionally raw memoir made all the more powerful in graphic design. It would be nice to think that everyone that has a terminal illness dies with bravery, dignity, and understanding, losing the battle after a courageous fight while their loving family is by their side. I With sincere thanks to Red Wheel Weiser Conari / Hampton Roads, Edelweiss and the author Marcia Moss, who provided this e-galley to be published May, 1, 2017. Highly Recommended Last Things: A Graphic Memoir of Loss and Love is an emotionally raw memoir made all the more powerful in graphic design. It would be nice to think that everyone that has a terminal illness dies with bravery, dignity, and understanding, losing the battle after a courageous fight while their loving family is by their side. I don’t believe it was Marcia Moss’ intent to lessen the severity of her husband Harvey’s illness (ALS) his death or to dishonor his memory, but more her wish through her writing and images to heal herself and her children. Her book was many years in the making and is published with the permission of her three sons, now adults. We visualize Harvey’s anger at his fate, one that seems to keep those closest to him at arm’s length, shutting them out instead of allowing their love to comfort him. Perhaps this is his way of protecting them and himself. He never seems to move beyond this. I did now walk in his shoes and I just don’t know. I’m not certain Moss ever truly understands this either. You cannot read without Last Things feeling sad. However, Moss shares an important story with us, one of her resilience as she struggles to be the glue that keeps her family together during extremely hard times. You cannot walk away with taking something from her story. The title alone sheds insight that through the loss of much, including many last things, this author held on to her love of the man she married while nurturing her sons, maintaining a family unit. Don’t hesitate to pick this up but do pick your time.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    Absolutely brutal. This was so beyond heartbreaking that I question my decision to read it--and I'm not someone who goes out of her way to avoid sadness and sad stories. I think this graphic-novel memoir will resonate deeply with anyone who's ever cared for a loved one with ALS (aka Lou Gehrig's disease) and make them feel less alone (though I think it'd be really unwise to read it if currently caring for a sick loved one). For everyone else it feels like punishment. I alternated between trying Absolutely brutal. This was so beyond heartbreaking that I question my decision to read it--and I'm not someone who goes out of her way to avoid sadness and sad stories. I think this graphic-novel memoir will resonate deeply with anyone who's ever cared for a loved one with ALS (aka Lou Gehrig's disease) and make them feel less alone (though I think it'd be really unwise to read it if currently caring for a sick loved one). For everyone else it feels like punishment. I alternated between trying to power through just to be over with it fast, and reading only a bit at a time to (unsuccessfully) control feeling emotionally overwhelmed. My heart goes out to Marissa Moss and her three sons. I docked one star not for content but for text that was too often written in a confusing sequence. It's not always obvious which speech bubble is supposed to follow which, and I always read them out of order in these confusing panels.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Celia

    Marissa Moss is a rock. She has written this book and illustrated it too. The book commemorates her family's journey as they watch her husband, Harvey Stahl, suffer and succumb to the horrible disease ALS. There are many themes in this book: connection, separation and the search for re-connection after a loss. From the back cover: Last things sneak up on you, slip away, unnoticed, unmarked... the last kiss, the last "I love you"... because we assume there will be others. We share a lot of "lasts" a Marissa Moss is a rock. She has written this book and illustrated it too. The book commemorates her family's journey as they watch her husband, Harvey Stahl, suffer and succumb to the horrible disease ALS. There are many themes in this book: connection, separation and the search for re-connection after a loss. From the back cover: Last things sneak up on you, slip away, unnoticed, unmarked... the last kiss, the last "I love you"... because we assume there will be others. We share a lot of "lasts" and don't even know it. Although frequently painful to read, it is poignant and honest and worth the time. 5 stars

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    “You’re not aware of last things,” Moss, a children’s book author/illustrator, writes in this wrenching memoir of losing her husband to ALS. That is, we look forward to and celebrate all of life’s firsts, but we never know until afterwards when we’ve experienced a last. The author’s husband, Harvey Stahl, was a medieval art historian working on a book about Louis IX’s prayer book. As the book opens, they were in Rome with their three boys for Harvey’s sabbatical year, but when they got back to B “You’re not aware of last things,” Moss, a children’s book author/illustrator, writes in this wrenching memoir of losing her husband to ALS. That is, we look forward to and celebrate all of life’s firsts, but we never know until afterwards when we’ve experienced a last. The author’s husband, Harvey Stahl, was a medieval art historian working on a book about Louis IX’s prayer book. As the book opens, they were in Rome with their three boys for Harvey’s sabbatical year, but when they got back to Berkeley they decided Harvey’s fatigue needed a doctor’s attention. ALS is always a devastating diagnosis, but Harvey had the particularly severe bulbar variety, and his lungs were quick to succumb. His battery-powered ventilator led to many scares – one time Moss had to plug him into the wall at a gas station and rush home for a spare battery – and he also underwent an emergency tracheotomy surgery. This is a very emotionally draining read. It’s so distressing to see how, instead of drawing closer and relying on each other, Marisa and Harvey drifted apart. Harvey pushed everyone away and focused on finishing his book and returning to his academic duties. He refused to accept his limitations and resisted necessary medical interventions. Meanwhile, Moss struggled with the unwanted role of caregiver while trying not to neglect her children and her own career. “I feel thin and easily torn, like a paper doll,” she writes. Most of the time it was pasta for dinner every night. She gives a clear sense of how impossible daily life became when Harvey’s condition was never stable but always deteriorating. I’ve read several nonfiction books about ALS now, including Bruce Kramer’s We Know How This Ends and Dan Marshall’s Home Is Burning. The former is probably falsely optimistic, while the latter is unpleasantly cynical. Moss gets the tone just right, though. She’s a reliable witness to a medical and bureaucratic nightmare and the way disease tore through their family. At the distance of years, though, she can write about her experience without bitterness and trace how they’ve put their lives back together. I can see this being especially helpful to older teens with a terminally ill parent. Releases May 1st.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Glen

    I won this book in a goodreads drawing. An almost unbearably sad graphic memoir about a woman whose husband is dying of Lou Gehrig's disease. It reminds of the comic strip For Better or For Worse, only without the dog. I won this book in a goodreads drawing. An almost unbearably sad graphic memoir about a woman whose husband is dying of Lou Gehrig's disease. It reminds of the comic strip For Better or For Worse, only without the dog.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    I was very moved by this powerful memoir of a family and marriage foundering under the weight of a terminal illness. The anger at the situation and each new development from both the ALS sufferer and his wife struck a chord with me; I could see myself reacting similarly if I were either of them. Moss very effectively depicts stress brought on not only by the diagnosis but the maddening pressure of the unrelenting series of decisions that have to be made thereafter and the second-guessing and rec I was very moved by this powerful memoir of a family and marriage foundering under the weight of a terminal illness. The anger at the situation and each new development from both the ALS sufferer and his wife struck a chord with me; I could see myself reacting similarly if I were either of them. Moss very effectively depicts stress brought on not only by the diagnosis but the maddening pressure of the unrelenting series of decisions that have to be made thereafter and the second-guessing and recriminations that can follow each and every one. Popular culture too often shows us sainted terminal patients murmuring platitudes to their constantly loving and supportive families. I'm very grateful to Moss for sharing this warts and all account of the end of life. Once I started reading, I could not stop until I finished the whole book, and the ending brought me to tears.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Maggie Gordon

    Welp, there went my feels, shattering into a million pieces. Last Things is about the death of Moss' husband after he is diagnosed with ALS. This graphic novel chronicles the pain and trauma the family goes through as Harvey quickly becomes ill and changes. It's a heartbreaking book that refuses to put a positive spin on suffering. Moss just tells us what it is like to go through such a rending experience, and it hurts. Oh does it hurt. Last Things is a beautiful, thoughtful, and utterly destroy Welp, there went my feels, shattering into a million pieces. Last Things is about the death of Moss' husband after he is diagnosed with ALS. This graphic novel chronicles the pain and trauma the family goes through as Harvey quickly becomes ill and changes. It's a heartbreaking book that refuses to put a positive spin on suffering. Moss just tells us what it is like to go through such a rending experience, and it hurts. Oh does it hurt. Last Things is a beautiful, thoughtful, and utterly destroying book to read, but one that I think offers a very important message. Watching a loved one die, particularly when they are young, is hard. It eats at you. Caretaking is a difficult, often thankless job. You will feel alone and overwhelmed. It will suck. But you can survive. It will never be okay, but it will be something you can live through.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Melinda

    When Marissa Moss's husband, Harvey, was diagnosed with ALS, they were told they would have two years together. One year to digest the enormity of the diagnosis and another year to say goodbye. But it didn't unfold that way. Instead, Harvey's condition deteriorated even more rapidly than expected. He was soon unable to breathe without a respirator. In this black-and-white graphic memoir, Moss tells the devastating story of her husband's illness and death. She thought they would grow closer, that When Marissa Moss's husband, Harvey, was diagnosed with ALS, they were told they would have two years together. One year to digest the enormity of the diagnosis and another year to say goodbye. But it didn't unfold that way. Instead, Harvey's condition deteriorated even more rapidly than expected. He was soon unable to breathe without a respirator. In this black-and-white graphic memoir, Moss tells the devastating story of her husband's illness and death. She thought they would grow closer, that there would be meaningful moments of kindness between Harvey and her, Harvey and their three sons. There was no beauty in this loss. It was not a "good death." It's the story of a man torn unwillingly from his life and turned cruel in his final months, and a family shocked and devastated. It's a brutal read, deeply emotional but not sentimental, and gripping from the beginning to the end.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Constance

    gut punching and honest. I dare you to read this and not want to hug this woman as your tears fall on her small strong shoulders.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

    LAST THINGS: A GRAPHIC MEMOIR OF LOSS AND LOVE I am amazed at how much truth and emotion Moss conveys in her graphic memoir of her husband's short and tragic battle with ALS. In 173 pages and through emotionally explicit drawings she conveys the anger, pain, loss, terror, and love experienced in the process of dying. She captures the entire range of emotions of her family as her husband deals with his illness and impending death. I am blown away by the whole thing. You would not think that a gra LAST THINGS: A GRAPHIC MEMOIR OF LOSS AND LOVE I am amazed at how much truth and emotion Moss conveys in her graphic memoir of her husband's short and tragic battle with ALS. In 173 pages and through emotionally explicit drawings she conveys the anger, pain, loss, terror, and love experienced in the process of dying. She captures the entire range of emotions of her family as her husband deals with his illness and impending death. I am blown away by the whole thing. You would not think that a graphic novel, would be the best median for telling the story, but having read other memoirs about loss, I think having the picture right in front of you makes the difference. It was her story to tell, and she did it in her own way. I appreciate the blunt honesty that she offered voicing her reluctance of becoming the caregiver as the position of a loved one is so often never reclaimed. I also admire her honesty in admitting that at times she was hopeless, hysterical, resentful and that the car is a great place to cry. She holds nothing back and shows it as it is... 5 stars Happy Reading!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Megan Cina-Bernard

    I think this was a good book to get me out of my reading slump. I love the honesty of the story she tells and I appreciate that it made me feel a lot of different things. I think this is the first book to make me cry in a long time.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Noe

    I'm writing this short review immediately, with wetness still in my eyes because I want the rawness to bleed into it. I wish I could say I feel raw because of Marissa's struggle or even that of the kids, but that's only part of it. What truly hit me was Harvey's loss of empathy for those sround him. It scares me. It scares me because it reminds me of how I often was when my chronic pain was so bad I was on several opioids at once. Between the pain and the meds I became someone I scarcely recogni I'm writing this short review immediately, with wetness still in my eyes because I want the rawness to bleed into it. I wish I could say I feel raw because of Marissa's struggle or even that of the kids, but that's only part of it. What truly hit me was Harvey's loss of empathy for those sround him. It scares me. It scares me because it reminds me of how I often was when my chronic pain was so bad I was on several opioids at once. Between the pain and the meds I became someone I scarcely recognize now. There are flashes of it when my leg is bad or I have to be on a stronger medicine. That's a person I never want to be. It scares me because Harvey could barely see it. There were flashes - moments of himself - but those glimpses can't outdo the... the worst of us. That's the kind of illness that truly frightens. The kind that can strip us away rather than outright ending us. *deep breath* "Something that takes all your focus, all your concentration. A physical demand that strips away your sense of self." This is one way Marissa describes dying - dying from an illness like ALS. There's a reason this was chosen by the Graphic Medicine community as one of the best of 2017. My experience is one of them. Yours, likely different, is another. We all can relate, we all bring our own experiences and fears... and Last Things breathes enough for them all.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Megan Bell

    Powerful, visceral, and so necessary, Last Things is a graphic memoir of a family’s journey through struggle, grief, and loss when their husband and father is diagnosed with ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Marissa Moss’ honesty, evident in every word and delivered with immediacy and clarity by every illustration, had me reading through tears, both in sadness and in gratitude. We are inundated with stories of beautiful, inspiring, even heartwarming deaths, and for many of us, those a Powerful, visceral, and so necessary, Last Things is a graphic memoir of a family’s journey through struggle, grief, and loss when their husband and father is diagnosed with ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Marissa Moss’ honesty, evident in every word and delivered with immediacy and clarity by every illustration, had me reading through tears, both in sadness and in gratitude. We are inundated with stories of beautiful, inspiring, even heartwarming deaths, and for many of us, those are narratives that our lived experiences don’t always live up to. If you’ve lost someone, Last Things will give you the comfort of having a friend who really knows what you’ve been through, and if you haven’t, Last Things will make you a better friend to those who have and serve as a touchstone should you be faced with such a loss. I want everyone to read Last Things, but particularly recommend it to fans of Art Spiegelman’s Maus and Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    This is a stunning revelation of grief and examines the way illness alters loved ones and the relationships we have with them. Marissa Moss and her family suffer many deaths before the ultimate loss comes just months after diagnosis. The portraits of pain are heart-rending. The endless goose chase of insurance ignites indignation. The increasingly rare sweet moments are shattering. Her dedication to the psalter is remarkable. Special mention must be made of Cathy; she is a warrior for the ALS-af This is a stunning revelation of grief and examines the way illness alters loved ones and the relationships we have with them. Marissa Moss and her family suffer many deaths before the ultimate loss comes just months after diagnosis. The portraits of pain are heart-rending. The endless goose chase of insurance ignites indignation. The increasingly rare sweet moments are shattering. Her dedication to the psalter is remarkable. Special mention must be made of Cathy; she is a warrior for the ALS-affected.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rita

    First graphic book I've read, they don't appeal to me much. But the cover & the title were irresistible! As was the story. Read it in one sitting..... First graphic book I've read, they don't appeal to me much. But the cover & the title were irresistible! As was the story. Read it in one sitting.....

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nilsa Pacheco

    The author is so honest with the painful truths involved with her husband’s dying of ALS. The book flows beautifully and puts the reader right in the middle of the author’s thoughts and the family’s raw pain.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Once I started this story I couldn't put it down. You may read this in one sitting. ALS- what a horrible, horrible disease! (also: Every Note Played by Lisa Genova) Symptoms appear for Harvey when they are in Rome on their year of sabbatical and he goes to the doctor when he gets home but it takes a while to get the diagnosis. He immediately goes into denial. Told by his wife, it goes into the detail of decisions that need to be made, how quickly they come, and how she has to balance the needs o Once I started this story I couldn't put it down. You may read this in one sitting. ALS- what a horrible, horrible disease! (also: Every Note Played by Lisa Genova) Symptoms appear for Harvey when they are in Rome on their year of sabbatical and he goes to the doctor when he gets home but it takes a while to get the diagnosis. He immediately goes into denial. Told by his wife, it goes into the detail of decisions that need to be made, how quickly they come, and how she has to balance the needs of their three young boys and her writing career during this ordeal. The pictures are gut-wrenching but really help tell the story and express the feelings of the people involved. Harvey thinks he will be able to continue teaching (he is a univerity professor) and writing his book. He imagines himself as Stephen Hawking, living for years with little change and being able to communicate with a computer. Instead the disease progresses quickly and devastatingly. The worst part is his emotional change, how he cuts everyone off and won't talk about what is happening or plan for the future. He shuts out his family, makes poor decisions and doesn't plan a legacy. His Jewish faith however is a big part of his story. I felt it was a bit disjointed in describing the progression, like I couldn't tell how serious it was, for example he was still able to walk, did not need the wheelchair right away and was talking about teaching, yet he could not swallow or breathe but maybe that's how it was. I also was overcome by feelings for those boys, ages 5-14, who all had different needs and levels of understanding. Lastly, I couldn't help but think how lucky they were to have good insurance, be able to afford in-home nurses, send the boys to Mexico on vacation, etc. They did not lose their home and were not devastated financially. Excellent story.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Libre Livre

    This one was tough—a devastating reality turned into a devastating read. I thought the ending felt too swift, given what we waded through to reach it (and therein lies the most exact(ing) content-to-structure mirroring. Deliberate? Perhaps.) Reading this book means bearing witness to a family’s most difficult year, and for the grant of that honor (and the work put into this art)—5 stars. For the overall sense, 4 stars; only because I would have appreciated a more balanced portrayal of life BEFOR This one was tough—a devastating reality turned into a devastating read. I thought the ending felt too swift, given what we waded through to reach it (and therein lies the most exact(ing) content-to-structure mirroring. Deliberate? Perhaps.) Reading this book means bearing witness to a family’s most difficult year, and for the grant of that honor (and the work put into this art)—5 stars. For the overall sense, 4 stars; only because I would have appreciated a more balanced portrayal of life BEFORE and AFTER (not just during). Without spoiling anything, there is also a component of the story that is left out until too far along to inform our reading (and our empathy for the main personages.) I can’t say I’d recommend this easily. A pale version of grief will transfer to you, especially if you’ve ever had to watch people close to you waste away. But if you have the stomach for the hard-hitting, give ‘this one’ (and yourself) lots of time. Take it in. Then set it aside.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sanjana

    A heart-breaking story of how Marissa Moss and her family cope with her husband’s diagnosis of ALS. The devastating power of this illness is felt by her and her family. She is torn between caring for her husband, looking after his needs and that of her children. Using her story telling skills and art, Moss builds this memoir to describe not only what her husband was going through but the turmoil she faces. The story she tells is honest, sad, powerful and intimate. She brings out the raw truth and A heart-breaking story of how Marissa Moss and her family cope with her husband’s diagnosis of ALS. The devastating power of this illness is felt by her and her family. She is torn between caring for her husband, looking after his needs and that of her children. Using her story telling skills and art, Moss builds this memoir to describe not only what her husband was going through but the turmoil she faces. The story she tells is honest, sad, powerful and intimate. She brings out the raw truth and doesn’t portray herself to be noble. This book is not about illness bringing the family closer but about the distance it creates and the lives it shatters when it pulls away everything from under their feet. Moss describes the daily life of her family coping with their world being torn apart. Her story touched me and I highly recommend this!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brandy

    I loved this. I have never read a graphic novel or memoir before and really enjoyed it. I just ordered 2 more graphic books :) This is a sad story, but important. It's a very honest portrayal of how serious, and especially sudden, deadly illness tears apart a family. It also gave me a little insight into what it takes to care for people in their home and how scary and daunting that is, even for well-educated people with resources. I was so impressed at the way she was able to keep prioritizing t I loved this. I have never read a graphic novel or memoir before and really enjoyed it. I just ordered 2 more graphic books :) This is a sad story, but important. It's a very honest portrayal of how serious, and especially sudden, deadly illness tears apart a family. It also gave me a little insight into what it takes to care for people in their home and how scary and daunting that is, even for well-educated people with resources. I was so impressed at the way she was able to keep prioritizing things for her boys, despite everything that was happening. I recommend this to anyone dealing with serious illness in their family and also for healthcare professionals, social workers, etc.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    I loved this book. Of course it was very sad. I didn't know much about ALS and how quickly it takes its toll. To me, it reminded me of my mother's passing from brain cancer. We had 10 special months, but as Moss shows us there is no way to ever be as ready as you think you should be. Last Things is a sad, beautiful graphic memoir that anyone who has gone through the trial of the diminishing health and death of a loved one can feel connected to. It reminds us that last words are important, but so I loved this book. Of course it was very sad. I didn't know much about ALS and how quickly it takes its toll. To me, it reminded me of my mother's passing from brain cancer. We had 10 special months, but as Moss shows us there is no way to ever be as ready as you think you should be. Last Things is a sad, beautiful graphic memoir that anyone who has gone through the trial of the diminishing health and death of a loved one can feel connected to. It reminds us that last words are important, but so easily missed, and, as Dave Isay also says, we all want to say to our loved ones "Thank you, I love you, I forgive you, please forgive me."

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Mazur

    Exceptionally honest and sad. The author tells the story of her husband's ordeal and death due to ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease. She shares the effects of his illness on the whole family, including her three young sons. Ms. Moss is the author of the Amelia's Notebook series, and the book is beautifully drawn and "hand printed" just as the children's series is. An eye-opening look at terminal illness. A detailed portrait of a struggling but strong and loving family. I read this graphic memoir in one Exceptionally honest and sad. The author tells the story of her husband's ordeal and death due to ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease. She shares the effects of his illness on the whole family, including her three young sons. Ms. Moss is the author of the Amelia's Notebook series, and the book is beautifully drawn and "hand printed" just as the children's series is. An eye-opening look at terminal illness. A detailed portrait of a struggling but strong and loving family. I read this graphic memoir in one sitting.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    By the author of the Amelia's Notebooks series comes a touching and beautiful graphic memoir. Moss' husband, Harvey, is diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) and she details the excruciating toll it took on the family, her efforts to connect with Harvey, to support her sons, and have time for herself. By the author of the Amelia's Notebooks series comes a touching and beautiful graphic memoir. Moss' husband, Harvey, is diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) and she details the excruciating toll it took on the family, her efforts to connect with Harvey, to support her sons, and have time for herself.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    This tugged on my heartstrings big time. It was written by a woman whose husband is diagnosed with ALS. I was happy to see it also fulfills a Read Harder challenge! For the 2018 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge Read a comic written and illustrated by the same person

  29. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    A real heartbreaker. I felt so bad for everyone here, especially the mom and the youngest boy. Poor little Asa! I hope he's doing okay now. A real heartbreaker. I felt so bad for everyone here, especially the mom and the youngest boy. Poor little Asa! I hope he's doing okay now.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    If I didn't finish reading this book in public on the T, I would have been crying. This book was hard to read at times, but I'm glad Marissa Moss shared her story. If I didn't finish reading this book in public on the T, I would have been crying. This book was hard to read at times, but I'm glad Marissa Moss shared her story.

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