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In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss

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This powerful memoir by New York Times bestselling author Amy Bloom is an illuminating story of two people whose love leads them to find a courageous way to part--and of a woman's struggle to go forward in the face of loss. Amy Bloom began to notice changes in her husband, Brian: He retired early from a new job he loved; he withdrew from close friendships; he talked mostly This powerful memoir by New York Times bestselling author Amy Bloom is an illuminating story of two people whose love leads them to find a courageous way to part--and of a woman's struggle to go forward in the face of loss. Amy Bloom began to notice changes in her husband, Brian: He retired early from a new job he loved; he withdrew from close friendships; he talked mostly about the past. Suddenly, it seemed there was a glass wall between them, and their long walks and talks stopped. Their world was altered forever when an MRI confirmed what they could no longer ignore: Brian had Alzheimer's disease. Forced to confront the truth of the diagnosis and its impact on the future he had envisioned, Brian was determined to die on his feet, not live on his knees. Supporting each other in their last journey together, Brian and Amy made the unimaginably difficult and painful decision to go to Dignitas, an organization based in Switzerland that empowers a person to end their own life with dignity and peace. In this heartbreaking and surprising memoir, Bloom sheds light on a part of life we so often shy away from discussing--its ending. Written in Bloom's captivating, insightful voice and with her trademark wit and candor, In Love is an unforgettable portrait of a beautiful marriage, and a boundary-defying love.


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This powerful memoir by New York Times bestselling author Amy Bloom is an illuminating story of two people whose love leads them to find a courageous way to part--and of a woman's struggle to go forward in the face of loss. Amy Bloom began to notice changes in her husband, Brian: He retired early from a new job he loved; he withdrew from close friendships; he talked mostly This powerful memoir by New York Times bestselling author Amy Bloom is an illuminating story of two people whose love leads them to find a courageous way to part--and of a woman's struggle to go forward in the face of loss. Amy Bloom began to notice changes in her husband, Brian: He retired early from a new job he loved; he withdrew from close friendships; he talked mostly about the past. Suddenly, it seemed there was a glass wall between them, and their long walks and talks stopped. Their world was altered forever when an MRI confirmed what they could no longer ignore: Brian had Alzheimer's disease. Forced to confront the truth of the diagnosis and its impact on the future he had envisioned, Brian was determined to die on his feet, not live on his knees. Supporting each other in their last journey together, Brian and Amy made the unimaginably difficult and painful decision to go to Dignitas, an organization based in Switzerland that empowers a person to end their own life with dignity and peace. In this heartbreaking and surprising memoir, Bloom sheds light on a part of life we so often shy away from discussing--its ending. Written in Bloom's captivating, insightful voice and with her trademark wit and candor, In Love is an unforgettable portrait of a beautiful marriage, and a boundary-defying love.

30 review for In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss

  1. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Quick update …. I’m out walking and I just finished listening to the NPR interview with Amy Bloom about this book … If you have a chance to listen to the NPR interview it’s really excellent. Amy Bloom is magnificent…. ….Her voice is authentic and true, honed to perfection! It’s one of the few memoirs that feel as though they have made a difference in the world. Barriers have been broken…. boundaries stripped away…. Amy invites us to look beneath the surface with her unsparing, yet compassionate n Quick update …. I’m out walking and I just finished listening to the NPR interview with Amy Bloom about this book … If you have a chance to listen to the NPR interview it’s really excellent. Amy Bloom is magnificent…. ….Her voice is authentic and true, honed to perfection! It’s one of the few memoirs that feel as though they have made a difference in the world. Barriers have been broken…. boundaries stripped away…. Amy invites us to look beneath the surface with her unsparing, yet compassionate narrative. Her husband, Brian has us looking closely at ‘right-to-die choices’, laws, his illness with Alzheimer’s, and his choice to die peacefully on his own terms. ……but not as a ‘self-serving’ endeavor…..rather a generosity …. not as an isolated situation…..but as many situations. Brian said to Amy: “Please Write About This” Magnificently.... she did!!! I think both Amy and Brian knew people ‘needed’ to hear this story. She had Paul and I (married 43 years)….discussing this book - adding our thoughts about compassionate assistance suicide for over an hour last night… …..from many points of view. We have Amy and Brian to thank. This slim powerful love story between Amy and Brian and the reality they were faced is packed filled with useful instructive, revealing, informative information. As Michael Cunningham has been quoted: “Prepare yourself to be heartbroken, expanded, unsettled, and filled with hope” Amy’s story opened up a dimension of feelings in me that I didn’t even know I had! It’s a story that sings, cries, exults, and mourns. A deeply serious book…an important book. The facts about Alzheimer’s are frightening. Right to die choices with peaceful support in America is also frightening…. But….. At its core “In Love” …. is a love story….(with grief, loss, death, more grief, more loss, more love) Amy Bloom is as real as any one person could possibly be — —tender, passionate, angry, funny, self doubting, intuitive. Absolutely it’s going down as one of the best books of the —-YEAR! It’s breathtaking experience of love and sorrow is overwhelming ‘felt’. So courageously written and utterly important!!!! A few excerpts …. It was January 26, 2020, Zürich Switzerland…. Amy and Brian were traveling to Zürich, Switzerland….. They were headed to Dignita’s office in Zürich, a Swiss nonprofit organization offering accompanied suicide. “For the past twenty years, Dignita’s has been the only place to go if you are an American citizen who wants to die and if you are not certifiably terminally ill with no more than six months to live. This is the current standard in the United States, even in the nine right-to-die states plus the district of Columbia, about which many older or chronically ill Americans harbor end-of-life fantasies and which I researched, at Brian’s direction, until we discovered that the only place in the world for painless, peaceful, and legal suicide is Dignitas, and the suburbs of Zürich”. “There are around six million people with Alzheimer’s in the United States. This doesn’t include the people with mild cognitive impairment who might or might not become demented (statistically, 80 percent of people with MCI do go on to develop Alzheimer’s within seven years, and although reevaluation every six months is recommended to people with MCI, no website can tell you why frequent reevaluation is recommended, as there is no FDA-approved and successful treatment for MCI or for slowing the progression of MCI to Alzheimer’s or, really, for Alzheimer’s itself). The six million also doesn’t include people with TBI (traumatic brain injury). which often leads to some form of dementia, or the people currently suffering from several different forms of dementia, which and just as badly as Alzheimer’s but may progressed differently. Almost two-thirds of these 6 million people are women. Almost two-thirds of the caregivers for those Al heimer’s patients are also women. More of the patients and more of the caregivers”. “Women in their sixties are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as they are to develop breast cancer”. “He has turned me into a wave-from-the-porch-person, and I do it for everyone who pulls out of my driveway”. Now people who don’t do that for their guests seem to me to be lacking something, as I was”. “I know that when you contemplate sending me out on tour, you all wish you could send Brian instead— and no one disagrees” Amy Bloom > had me in tears with her above sentence!!! I wish I could meet you both. THANK YOU AMY for this beautiful gift. I’m deeply sorry for your loss. I fell in love with both Amy & Brian …. how could anyone NOT? Amy made Brian come alive: absolutely charming, big hearted, funny, fearless, and incredibly lovable (as candy man to his grandkids—I was taken). SIDE NOTES…. ……because of this book — I’ll make a donation this week to planned Parenthood…. …..I’ve already listened to Bill Evans …..I’ve marked the book “As I Lay Dying” , by William Faulkner to read. …..I’ve made a note for myself to watch the series ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’. …..I’ve purchased book to read by Jane Hirshfield (thank you Amy)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    Amy Bloom has written a beautiful, moving book about her husband’s diagnosis with early Alzheimer’s and his decision to end his life. It’s truly a love story. Some people might think it’s a form of torture to read a memoir about Alzheimer’s when you’re in a similar situation. But I found it enlightening. And I appreciated her candor, which made me realize my feelings, especially anger and frustration, are not unique or unrealistic. It doesn’t mean the love has gone but that to be in control at a Amy Bloom has written a beautiful, moving book about her husband’s diagnosis with early Alzheimer’s and his decision to end his life. It’s truly a love story. Some people might think it’s a form of torture to read a memoir about Alzheimer’s when you’re in a similar situation. But I found it enlightening. And I appreciated her candor, which made me realize my feelings, especially anger and frustration, are not unique or unrealistic. It doesn’t mean the love has gone but that to be in control at all times just isn’t going to happen. Brian is a little further down the road than my husband (who is not young). It was like reading up about a town you’re getting ready to visit. Brian’s decision was not one we would make but it was easy to understand and sympathize with. Dealing as it does with assisted suicide and death with dignity, this is an important story for everyone to read and ponder the issue. There are many reasons it could be considered, Alzheimer’s is just one. I listened to this and Amy does a wonderful job narrating her own story.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)

    Told in the voice of the author, Amy Bloom, this indeed was a labor of love and undying emotion, dedication and most importantly love. Brian, Amy's husband wanted her to write about this. Whether you believe in assists suicide or not, this is a book that will touch your heart and soul. It is a book of a love between a man and a woman, one so deep rooted that they each are willing to let the other go. Afflicted by the dreaded disease we know as Alzheimer’s, Amy Bloom’s husband, Brian, had decided Told in the voice of the author, Amy Bloom, this indeed was a labor of love and undying emotion, dedication and most importantly love. Brian, Amy's husband wanted her to write about this. Whether you believe in assists suicide or not, this is a book that will touch your heart and soul. It is a book of a love between a man and a woman, one so deep rooted that they each are willing to let the other go. Afflicted by the dreaded disease we know as Alzheimer’s, Amy Bloom’s husband, Brian, had decided to end his life. Amy is devastated and as they investigate and go through the process necessary to qualify for Dignitas in Switzerland, we journey with the couple sharing their thoughts conversations, and family, and trying to walk their walk. I don’t know if that choice was in my husband or my future whether I would be brave enough to travel down that road. There are many who would disagree with this loving couples' choice, but in the end who are we to judge? I know this was probably the hardest decision they made together, yet it involved Brian's choice and Amy’s support of a man she loved so much. It’s the most difficult decision to give up the one you love and yet does it not show incredible love and fortitude to do so? "He falls asleep holding my hand," Bloom writes. "His breathing changes, and it's the last time I will hear him sleeping, breathing deeply and steadily, the way he has done lying beside me for almost 15 years." I was indeed moved reading this, but know that Amy wasn’t ever selfish, just loving and giving Brian the dignity and choice he so desired. As Brian said, "I would rather die on my feet, than live on my knees." Brian died with Amy by his side on January 30, 2022.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    I finished this last week but it has taken me this long to sort out my thoughts, feelings after reading this searing book. I was emotionally slayed by the honesty, her very real thoughts as she came to terms with bother husband's diagnosis and decision to end his life in assisted suicide. I wondered if I could have the courage to do what my loved one wanted but then again the other side of the coin is to make him stay and watch him become less than. She openly displays her life, the before, the I finished this last week but it has taken me this long to sort out my thoughts, feelings after reading this searing book. I was emotionally slayed by the honesty, her very real thoughts as she came to terms with bother husband's diagnosis and decision to end his life in assisted suicide. I wondered if I could have the courage to do what my loved one wanted but then again the other side of the coin is to make him stay and watch him become less than. She openly displays her life, the before, the present and the after. It is happy, full of life and love, and then sadness, and an ending. Alzheimers is a terrible thing, no cure, no definitive timetable, just slow disintegration, a unstoppable eroding of all a person is or was. Terrible, but this book, this powerful book, shows the joy that came before, the frustration during and a possible choice, albeit a hard one. I applaud this author for sharing her life and decisions during this difficult time.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    An emotionally powerful, beautifully written, and unflinching memoir. I listened to this courageous and memorable story of “accompanied suicide.” I was shattered with the ending. The memoir was deeply thought-provoking and sometimes difficult for me to comprehend. I can only hope that I would face a comparable situation with as much courage and grace as Brian Ameche and Amy Bloom.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Betsy Robinson

    Amy Bloom writes with the full bandwidth of her humanity. I’ve read and loved all of her previous books, so I had no doubt I’d feel the same about her new memoir, In Love. Fall in love with In Love. It’s effortless. What sounds like a grim topic—the “accompanied suicide” of Amy’s Alzheimer’s-stricken husband, Brian—is anything but. That’s because Amy tells the whole truth. There is no shying away from her own sometimes demonic rage or grief, including a hysterically funny passage about what she Amy Bloom writes with the full bandwidth of her humanity. I’ve read and loved all of her previous books, so I had no doubt I’d feel the same about her new memoir, In Love. Fall in love with In Love. It’s effortless. What sounds like a grim topic—the “accompanied suicide” of Amy’s Alzheimer’s-stricken husband, Brian—is anything but. That’s because Amy tells the whole truth. There is no shying away from her own sometimes demonic rage or grief, including a hysterically funny passage about what she imagined her fakakta Jewish family saying as the gatekeeper at Dignitas, the suicide place in Zurich, was speaking pleasantries. There is full disclosure of her sometimes sociopathic sense of right and wrong, her crying fits, and the inability of either her or Brian to find their way out of a parking lot even before he had dementia. There is a journalist’s recounting of the difficulty of finding any help with compassionate suicide (even in states that allow euthanasia). So this book is moving, entertaining, and extremely educational, and you do not have to be interested in the subject to be swept up in the story. And, oh yes, per the title, there is love, deep love. And, oh oh yes, you feel every single thing because Amy Bloom feels it. Amy Bloom writes like a bedeviled angel. She is a self-described Rottweiler—one of my favorite breeds, powerful dogs who display their enormity in both love and protection. She is one of our greatest living American writers. *** Thanks to Random House for the ARC.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    I appreciated Amy Bloom’s courage and honesty in talking about her late husband’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis and her decision to help him die of assisted suicide through the organization Dignitas. I feel like she cut through the stigma surrounding assisted suicide with her clear and heartfelt writing about her emotions throughout the decision process and her love for Brian. As other reviewers have said, Bloom wrote with much-needed candor about the toll of caretaking for someone with Alzheimer’s, an I appreciated Amy Bloom’s courage and honesty in talking about her late husband’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis and her decision to help him die of assisted suicide through the organization Dignitas. I feel like she cut through the stigma surrounding assisted suicide with her clear and heartfelt writing about her emotions throughout the decision process and her love for Brian. As other reviewers have said, Bloom wrote with much-needed candor about the toll of caretaking for someone with Alzheimer’s, an experience only heightened in this case by her deep care for her husband and his autonomy and wellbeing. I had a few qualms with this memoir. First, in different places throughout the book Bloom inserted side comments (e.g., toward the beginning she ends a paragraph with her daughter saying that she and Brian have traits of sociopaths, almost like a joke) that distracted from the core emotions communicated in the memoir. Instead of these side comments I felt curious to know more about her grieving process after Brian’s passing and more about the formation of their bond. Also, toward the end of the memoir, Bloom writes about seeing a Black man at an airport, imagining spending a pleasant evening with him, and then calling 911 on the Black man. Like what?? I get that she was grieving and at the same time that’s not an excuse to write something unnecessary and racist about imagining calling the police on a Black person. Ugh. Overall an okay read and much warmth to Bloom in her grieving process. It’s nice to know that Brian had someone by his side who cared for him so much and empowered him in his decision-making after receiving the Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lois

    Full disclosure.: months ago, my husband passed away. My role as caregiver was hard, unappreciated, confusing, and ultimately devastating because the best I could do was tell my husband that it was alright to die. So, I read Amy Bloom's book about the death of her husband from Alzheimer's , in part, to validate my own experience. Bloom, and Her husband, Brian, were second-time-around sweethearts and while their preference for activities (Brian was an outdoorsman. Amy's home was her castle) didn't Full disclosure.: months ago, my husband passed away. My role as caregiver was hard, unappreciated, confusing, and ultimately devastating because the best I could do was tell my husband that it was alright to die. So, I read Amy Bloom's book about the death of her husband from Alzheimer's , in part, to validate my own experience. Bloom, and Her husband, Brian, were second-time-around sweethearts and while their preference for activities (Brian was an outdoorsman. Amy's home was her castle) didn't completely mesh, they gave and took enough to make their marriage work. It worked until the day Amy began to notice subtle, then disturbing changes in Brian's behavior. Numerous doctor's visits came to one conclusion, Brian, a former football player, had Alzheimers. When the symptoms became too pronounced for denial, Brian made a decision. He wanted to end his life on his own terms. But, in America, that is not an easy task. The few states that allow for assisted suicide require residency. There is no tourism suicide in the US. So, Amy looked further and found that a company in Switzerland took patients from overseas. The run up to the fatal day was grueling. Local neurologists, psychiatrists, and therapists did not want to give Amy and Brian the papers confirming his diagnosis while also confirming that his mind was sound enough to make this staggering decision. As the clock ticked, Amy took on more and more responsibility for Brian's daily life and for the pursuit of the documents they needed to open the door for Brian's life ending journey. Amy talks about crying a lot, I know she is telling the truth. It's what happens to the caregiver, even more so to a caregiver wishing for her spouse's death to relieve him from his torture. This is a three hanky, or three boxes of tissue, book. Every time Amy cried, every time she expressed anger and frustration at the medical system that won't acknowledge the severity of the patient's condition and offers useless platitudes ,I raged right along with her Brian got his death wish. Amy was caught in the conflict of letting her terminally ill husband go, or praying for a recovery she knew would never come. I can only say that this book comes from a place of truth. It should be required reading for any grief group, not just Alzheimer's groups of which there are many. Thank you to Amy Bloom for taking a huge risk and giving words to the horrible journey that so many caregivers go on. This is a remarkable, soul bearing book and should give "misery loves company" comfort to all of those who are walking the same path. It should also be read in it's entirety to Congress and State Legislators so that those who suffer do not have to travel to Switzerland to lay down their burden. Highly, highly recommended.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie G.

    A beautiful story of true love. When Amy Bloom's husband of 13 years, Brian, begins to act strangely, to screw up at work, to lose interest in the things he loved, a series of doctor's appointments led to a diagnosis of Alzheimer's. There was no time at which Brian wanted to continue the long goodbye of Alzheimer's. When he was losing the ability to lead a full and independent life it was time to check out. The US does not provide people with the means to end life peacefully. Even in the few rig A beautiful story of true love. When Amy Bloom's husband of 13 years, Brian, begins to act strangely, to screw up at work, to lose interest in the things he loved, a series of doctor's appointments led to a diagnosis of Alzheimer's. There was no time at which Brian wanted to continue the long goodbye of Alzheimer's. When he was losing the ability to lead a full and independent life it was time to check out. The US does not provide people with the means to end life peacefully. Even in the few right to die states people must be about to die of natural causes to be allowed to die peacefully. This is something that baffles me. All this leave it in God's hands bullshit makes me crazy. If we left it in God's hands we would not have developed all these medical interventions that extend life and we would still die when we were 40, well before the age when most (not all) people face questions about wasting illnesses. In any event, Amy and Brian are left with only one option, Dignitas. If you think it is easy to schedule your end at Dignitas this book will teach you otherwise. It is surprisingly difficult and unsurprisingly expensive to be accepted by Dignitas, and the paperwork is crazy (impossible for those with dementia who do not have a committed love one to help.) And it turns out doctors in the US will try to foil you during the process as you collect necessary health records and psychiatric reports. Bloom details all of this, and also lets us know about her decent, brilliant, loud, loving, and very difficult husband and about their unlikely and enviable love for one another. This was moving and affirming and heartbreaking but it is never exploitive at all. So many writers would have gone all gooey, but this is as spare as can be. You don't care about these people because Bloom tells a schmaltzy story, or makes them look more vulnerable than any person ever. You care about these people because they are good people, imperfect and good, and they got dealt a terrible hand, and they played their hands with love, grace, maturity and dignity. It is impossible to understand why that is not an option open to everyone.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Canadian Reader

    I believe I first became aware of Dignitas, a Swiss organization that provides “accompanied death”—i.e., euthanasia—to those of sound mind who wish to end their lives, in Richard B. Wright’s 2007 book October. That novel revolves around a character who is asked to travel to Switzerland with a now terminally ill man he knew in his youth. Amy Bloom’s memoir, focusing on her accompaniment of her husband, Brian Ameche, deals with another kind of “terminal illness.” Diagnosed with early-onset Alzheim I believe I first became aware of Dignitas, a Swiss organization that provides “accompanied death”—i.e., euthanasia—to those of sound mind who wish to end their lives, in Richard B. Wright’s 2007 book October. That novel revolves around a character who is asked to travel to Switzerland with a now terminally ill man he knew in his youth. Amy Bloom’s memoir, focusing on her accompaniment of her husband, Brian Ameche, deals with another kind of “terminal illness.” Diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in his mid-sixties (and believed to have had the condition for the preceding three years), Brian resolves almost immediately to end his own life before the inevitable full erasure of self occurs. His determination is clear and unflagging; however, he needs his wife to manage the project as his memory and executive function fail. Bloom structures her memoir around the four days the two spend in Zurich that lead up to and include Brian’s drinking the lethal sodium pentobarbital cocktail that bring his life to an end. Chapters about their time in Switzerland are interspersed with sections explaining the process and documentation Dignitas requires of its applicants, as well as details of Bloom and Ameche’s fifteen-year marriage, Brian’s diagnosis, and the challenges of dealing with someone with this devastating condition. I have read a number of memoirs about Alzheimer’s Disease. This one is unique in that it addresses the lack of options available to those who wish to forego “the long goodbye.” Bloom says Brian wanted her to write about their experience, yet the book feels less a passionate plea for this option to be available to Americans than a document testifying to the challenges families face when they have to jump through so many hurdles and travel so far to meet death on their own terms. Thank you to Net Galley and the publisher for providing me with a digital copy for review purposes.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Blankfein

    Reading through tears - a beautifully written journey of the most painful kind. In Love by Amy Bloom hits all the right notes when it comes to revealing and evoking authentic and true emotions. The author beautifully articulates her story of love, passionate and imperfect, and her personal emotional challenges and struggles. She shares what she has experienced and learned during her quest for answers while on life’s journey before and during her husband’s early onset Alzheimer’s symptoms, diagno Reading through tears - a beautifully written journey of the most painful kind. In Love by Amy Bloom hits all the right notes when it comes to revealing and evoking authentic and true emotions. The author beautifully articulates her story of love, passionate and imperfect, and her personal emotional challenges and struggles. She shares what she has experienced and learned during her quest for answers while on life’s journey before and during her husband’s early onset Alzheimer’s symptoms, diagnosis, progression and his life changing decision. Odd behaviors, strange occurrences and inconsistent decision making over several years finally lead to a doctor’s visit that uncovered the truth. The shocking, but not so shocking diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s was confirmed when Brian went for bloodwork and an MRI… and everything changed for Amy and Brian from that day forward. Brian was adamant about his choice to not live with a debilitating and progressive disease and asked Amy to research his options. Battling her emotions but knowing she was going to abide by his wishes, Amy Bloom gives us an account of the options she pursued on behalf of her husband, the mental exams Brian was taxed with in order to reach a diagnosis, her emotional rollercoaster and his steadfastness when it came to how his life would conclude, even during the times where he was physically lost, emotionally detached and irrationally short tempered. His unsettling symptoms were exhibited yet his love and appreciation for Amy and his decision to end his life by his own free will never wavered. I love Amy’s writing and I cried for all that was lost. Brian made an almost impossible and difficult decision and Amy honored it by loving and supporting him… I see that as a beautiful gift they gave each other. I highly recommend this memoir.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jaclyn

    I wouldn’t ordinarily choose to read a memoir about a man diagnosed with Alzheimer’s choosing assisted death told from the point of view of his wife who bears the brunt of the complex logistics of this decision. But I will reading ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that Amy Bloom writes. And this book is heartbreaking and beautiful and weirdly comforting. It’s a beautiful tribute to her husband Brian and their families. It’s a tender look at end of life choices and the cruelty of this disease. Bloom writes I wouldn’t ordinarily choose to read a memoir about a man diagnosed with Alzheimer’s choosing assisted death told from the point of view of his wife who bears the brunt of the complex logistics of this decision. But I will reading ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that Amy Bloom writes. And this book is heartbreaking and beautiful and weirdly comforting. It’s a beautiful tribute to her husband Brian and their families. It’s a tender look at end of life choices and the cruelty of this disease. Bloom writes with piercing insight at a time when one would forgive her for veering into sentimentality. I feel bereft having read this but also cannot help but marvel at the power of love and the importance of relationships.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    “We’re not here for a long time, we’re here for a good time.” (Ameche family saying) Given the psychological astuteness of her fiction, it’s no surprise that Bloom is a practicing psychotherapist. She treats her own life with the same compassionate understanding, and even though the main events covered in this brilliantly understated memoir only occurred two and a bit years ago, she has remarkable perspective and avoids self-pity and mawkishness. Her husband, Brian Ameche, was diagnosed with early “We’re not here for a long time, we’re here for a good time.” (Ameche family saying) Given the psychological astuteness of her fiction, it’s no surprise that Bloom is a practicing psychotherapist. She treats her own life with the same compassionate understanding, and even though the main events covered in this brilliantly understated memoir only occurred two and a bit years ago, she has remarkable perspective and avoids self-pity and mawkishness. Her husband, Brian Ameche, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in his mid-60s, having exhibited mild cognitive impairment for several years. Brian quickly resolved to make a dignified exit while he still, mostly, had his faculties. But he needed Bloom’s help. “I worry, sometimes, that a better wife, certainly a different wife, would have said no, would have insisted on keeping her husband in this world until his body gave out. It seems to me that I’m doing the right thing, in supporting Brian in his decision, but it would feel better and easier if he could make all the arrangements himself and I could just be a dutiful duckling, following in his wake. Of course, if he could make all the arrangements himself, he wouldn’t have Alzheimer’s” She achieves the perfect tone, mixing black humour with teeth-gritted practicality. Research into acquiring sodium pentobarbital via doctor friends soon hit a dead end and they settled instead on flying to Switzerland for an assisted suicide through Dignitas – a proven but bureaucracy-ridden and expensive method. The first quarter of the book is a day-by-day diary of their January 2020 trip to Zurich as they perform the farce of a couple on vacation. A long central section surveys their relationship – a second chance for both of them in midlife – and how Brian, a strapping Yale sportsman and accomplished architect, gradually descended into confusion and dependence. The assisted suicide itself, and the aftermath as she returns to the USA and organizes a memorial service, fill a matter-of-fact 20 pages towards the close. Hard as parts of this are to read, there are so many lovely moments of kindness (the letter her psychotherapist writes about Brian’s condition to clinch their place at Dignitas!) and laughter, despite it all (Brian’s endless fishing stories!). While Bloom doesn’t spare herself here, diligently documenting times when she was impatient and petty, she doesn’t come across as impossibly brave or stoic. She was just doing what she felt she had to, to show her love for Brian, and weeping all the way. An essential, compelling read. Originally published on my blog, Bookish Beck.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Deborah

    You’d think this would be an absolutely heart-rending book, as it recounts the end of the novelist author’s marriage when her well-loved husband is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and he asks for her help in ending his life. Yes, it is sad; the author obviously loved her handsome husband and deeply grieves his loss. But it’s a remarkably unsentimental account of the last few years of Brian’s life, when he was undergoing changes that badly affected his marriage but that no one recognized as symptoms o You’d think this would be an absolutely heart-rending book, as it recounts the end of the novelist author’s marriage when her well-loved husband is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and he asks for her help in ending his life. Yes, it is sad; the author obviously loved her handsome husband and deeply grieves his loss. But it’s a remarkably unsentimental account of the last few years of Brian’s life, when he was undergoing changes that badly affected his marriage but that no one recognized as symptoms of the onset of dementia. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Bloom herself, so in addition to getting the trademark authorial voice on the page of candour and wit, you hear her wryness and anger. She was angry at almost everything and everyone but Brian; once his diagnosis was confirmed, she fully supported his decision to end his life. She had always been the one to make the arrangements for everything in their marriage, so of course he just announced his decision and left it up to her to figure it out. As she did her research, the options continued to dwindle away to only one—Dignitas, in Switzerland—and even that was not a sure thing, as Dignitas insisted that prospective—what?—clients, jump through a lot of hoops. This was a really fascinating read. I’ve always wished that someone who had gone into space really knew how to write so they could share that experience with the rest of us in an engaging way. Amy Bloom is a writer who made an incredibly difficult journey and, at her husband’s suggestion, wrote about it. I hope we never have to go through this or that North American laws are kinder by then if we do.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kent Winward

    Oddly shallow for the issues it was exploring.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas

    Meh. The story is obviously heartbreaking, but I just didn't think it was that great a book. In other words: three stars NOT because it wasn't sad enough, but because I just wasn't all that moved by the writing or the insights contained herein. Also, definitely not three stars because of an objection to Bloom and Ameche's choice to pursue accompanied/assisted suicide, which seemed an entirely sensible, if wrenching, decision. Also, if I had to hear about Yale one more time, I thought I might scre Meh. The story is obviously heartbreaking, but I just didn't think it was that great a book. In other words: three stars NOT because it wasn't sad enough, but because I just wasn't all that moved by the writing or the insights contained herein. Also, definitely not three stars because of an objection to Bloom and Ameche's choice to pursue accompanied/assisted suicide, which seemed an entirely sensible, if wrenching, decision. Also, if I had to hear about Yale one more time, I thought I might scream. We get it: Brian went to Yale. Frankly, he sounded pretty insufferable about having done so.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ellis

    I haven't been able to focus on much more than angrily scrolling twitter and comfort re-watching Our Flag Means Death for the third or fourth time, but I did read this sad book in one day. I haven't been able to focus on much more than angrily scrolling twitter and comfort re-watching Our Flag Means Death for the third or fourth time, but I did read this sad book in one day.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Paula

    DNF. This memoir was obviously very personal and I don’t want to minimize her grief and pain. However, as a reader reviewing a book, I regret that I never was able to fully connect with or truly understand her and her husband’s decisions. I found the book quite sad which is why I stopped at 40%. For me, assisted suicide is not an option and there are valid reasons why they make it so difficult in the the U.S. to perform it. It felt a bit like the author was trying to promote it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lesley Kagen

    Amy Bloom has no peers. She is wonderful and down-to-earth and tells this story of lost love with every inch of her heart and soul. Superb!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bonny

    In Love was a book that I could not put down once I started. I read until 2:30 am to finish it, something that I haven't done in a very long time. I knew how it ended, but the story was just too immersive to put down. Amy Bloom has written quite a few works of fiction, but this is a memoir of how she accompanied her husband Brian with his suicide after he is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. It's as gut-wrenching and heart-breaking as you might imagine, but it's also full of questions, love, h In Love was a book that I could not put down once I started. I read until 2:30 am to finish it, something that I haven't done in a very long time. I knew how it ended, but the story was just too immersive to put down. Amy Bloom has written quite a few works of fiction, but this is a memoir of how she accompanied her husband Brian with his suicide after he is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. It's as gut-wrenching and heart-breaking as you might imagine, but it's also full of questions, love, humanity, and dignity. Amy Bloom has written a moving account of everything it takes to legally die with some dignity - at least $10,000, the ability to travel to Zurich, the ability to swallow, and someone to help you with the exacting process. This book felt personal to me, but it will feel personal to each of us at some point in our lives. My father was ill for at least twelve years with multiple comorbidities - heart disease, kidney disease, Type II diabetes, bladder and prostate cancer, and depression. My sister and I were the ones charged with taking him to doctor appointments and rounds of daily radiation. I'm not sure he had any quality of life, and in fact, he said he "just wanted to die" many times during those twelve years. Towards the end, I used to rant that we treated our pets better than we treated fellow humans because we were sympathetic to our pet's pain and suffering but every one of my father's twelve doctors was on a mission to preserve his life no matter what the cost (human, emotional, and financial) was to the patient. In Love is the story of how Brian Ameche and Amy Bloom met, married, and their lives together until Brian made the decision that he didn't want to suffer through a long, painful decline and how Amy Bloom and an organization called Dignitas in Switzerland helped him carry this through, told with strength and love. Thank you to Random House Publishing Group and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Karen Ng

    One of the best memoirs I've read in my life. It's on par with A Year of Magical Thinking and When Breath Becomes Air. I put this book in the category with the former two due to its beautiful writing. Writing a memoir is easy, but composing words eloquently is an art form. This book is a masterpiece mainly about love, aging, marriage, family, Alzheimer's, dying; but ironically, it's also about the beauty of being alive, healthy and loved by lots of people around you. One of the best memoirs I've read in my life. It's on par with A Year of Magical Thinking and When Breath Becomes Air. I put this book in the category with the former two due to its beautiful writing. Writing a memoir is easy, but composing words eloquently is an art form. This book is a masterpiece mainly about love, aging, marriage, family, Alzheimer's, dying; but ironically, it's also about the beauty of being alive, healthy and loved by lots of people around you.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jill Meyer

    Have you had a loved one get very ill with what turned out to be a fatal disease? A disease like Alzheimer’s or another disease of dementia? How would you help your loved one if he wanted to circumvent his suffering and end his life on his terms. Would you help? That was the situation for Amy Bloom and her husband, Brian Ameche. Bloom explains it all in her slim memoir, “In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss”. Amy Bloom and Brian Ameche met and fell madly in love when they met in their forties. Each Have you had a loved one get very ill with what turned out to be a fatal disease? A disease like Alzheimer’s or another disease of dementia? How would you help your loved one if he wanted to circumvent his suffering and end his life on his terms. Would you help? That was the situation for Amy Bloom and her husband, Brian Ameche. Bloom explains it all in her slim memoir, “In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss”. Amy Bloom and Brian Ameche met and fell madly in love when they met in their forties. Each had been in a committed relationship and each cast off that relationship and they married. They were a bit different - he was Catholic and she was Jewish. She brought three children and four grandchildren to their marriage; he had never had children. But he fell in love with his new family and they, seemingly with him. Bloom was a therapist and Ameche an architect. They were just at a point to retire and enjoy their life together when Brian Ameche was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. Bloom’s book describes how Brian decided to die. He didn’t want to live with Alzheimer’s. He was an active man, both mentally and physically. So they looked into the “Right to Die” organizations. There was no program here in the US but they found a program called “Dignitas”, based in Zurich, Switzerland. The program had rules and Ameche and Bloom jumped through the hoops to be accepted. And on a cold day in an apartment in a Zurich suburb, Amy Bloom held her husband as he died. Amy Bloom’s book will not appeal to every reader. Many people are squeamish about or downright opposed to assisted suicide. But for the right reader, the book is a powerful look at love…and loving.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Toni

    The beauty of this memoir lies in the lack of sentimentality that Bloom employs to tackle the subject. No easy feat when dealing with the death of a beloved spouse to early-onset Alzheimers. Bloom's humor and wit are at their finest here, recounting the harrowing (and, at times, hilarious) steps toward realizing that her husband is "losing his mind," and their mutual understanding to support his decision to go to Switzerland to die on his own terms rather than wait for disease to gut the person The beauty of this memoir lies in the lack of sentimentality that Bloom employs to tackle the subject. No easy feat when dealing with the death of a beloved spouse to early-onset Alzheimers. Bloom's humor and wit are at their finest here, recounting the harrowing (and, at times, hilarious) steps toward realizing that her husband is "losing his mind," and their mutual understanding to support his decision to go to Switzerland to die on his own terms rather than wait for disease to gut the person that he is. It's a hard book to get through at times, not necessarily because of the disease, but because Bloom so expertly captures those daily moments of shared ordinariness and extraordinariness that make up a life together and the feelings she has at the imminent loss of those moments. Honest and funny and wrenching.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    I wept so copiously that the manicurist wanted to know if I wanted the color of my nail enamel changed for free. It wan’t about that, you’ll be glad to know. (I think you will be glad to know.) It was about being gutted completely, utterly, and surprisingly, by the welling up of emotion I felt as I read the ending pages of this honest, frank, occasionally funny, and at all times heart wrenching account of a diagnosis, a decision, and a determination that would not be denied. For reasons that are I wept so copiously that the manicurist wanted to know if I wanted the color of my nail enamel changed for free. It wan’t about that, you’ll be glad to know. (I think you will be glad to know.) It was about being gutted completely, utterly, and surprisingly, by the welling up of emotion I felt as I read the ending pages of this honest, frank, occasionally funny, and at all times heart wrenching account of a diagnosis, a decision, and a determination that would not be denied. For reasons that are hard to explain, it was Amy Bloom’s summation of this journey of love and loss, her description of the memorial service—who was there, why they came, what they said—-and Wislawa Szymborska’s glorious affirmation of life itself, Allegro Ma Non Troppo, that simply ruined me. I have boundless admiration for Amy Bloom as what I assume to be a reliable narrator, a teacher, a guide, and as a writer. And although this may be a superficial aside, I want to say that the book cover is exquisite. In an era of designers, or paintboxes,seemingly run amok as they rush to copy one another, there is an enduring simplicity and permanence in its font and color combination that says ‘in life, in dying, and in death, we shall always be in love’. To be able to convey that? That is an art in itself.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lori Boyd

    This book brings the subject of Death by Dignity to the forefront and will have you understanding the daunting process the patient and family go thru, from broaching the topic to finding help, acceptance of the decision and the aftermath, not only of the act itself but peoples opinion of it. I found it brutally honest as to the emotions that go into such a monumental decision..denial, disdain, fear, reluctance, acceptance. While not as maudlin as I feared, I found this book a brutally honest acc This book brings the subject of Death by Dignity to the forefront and will have you understanding the daunting process the patient and family go thru, from broaching the topic to finding help, acceptance of the decision and the aftermath, not only of the act itself but peoples opinion of it. I found it brutally honest as to the emotions that go into such a monumental decision..denial, disdain, fear, reluctance, acceptance. While not as maudlin as I feared, I found this book a brutally honest account of a loving couple faced with the horrific diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, the patient’s capacity to understand and make a correct decision for himself and the caregiver’s ability to see this and understand the need for this path forward, regardless of her opinion. Could I make this decision? Could I assist my loved one with this decision? I seriously don’t know, and hope I never have to find out. Thanks to Ms. Bloom, Random House and NetGalley for this ARC. Opinion is mine alone.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Helen

    Thank you Amy Bloom for sharing this deeply personal and heartfelt memoir about you and your husband’s journey dealing with his Alzheimer’s diagnosis. His decision to leave this earth on his own volition, before he lost all of his mental faculties, was very personal and yet he wanted you to share it with others. I was very moved by this memoir and appreciative of the effects this devastating disease has on a couple, their family and their community of friends.

  27. 5 out of 5

    erin

    imagine knowing exactly how a book is going to end and then still sitting there in absolute shock, tears streaming down your face, feeling like someone just carved your heart out w a dull knife

  28. 4 out of 5

    Susan Ebel

    As a person who supports assisted suicide and right to die, I went into this book looking for insight as to what this process feels like. I have a better understanding of how this looks in the USA compared to other countries, how agonizing the application and approval process can be, and what the act itself looks like. But what was missing was connection to the people involved. I never felt like I connected with Amy or Brian. I felt like I only learned cursory details and therefore when reading As a person who supports assisted suicide and right to die, I went into this book looking for insight as to what this process feels like. I have a better understanding of how this looks in the USA compared to other countries, how agonizing the application and approval process can be, and what the act itself looks like. But what was missing was connection to the people involved. I never felt like I connected with Amy or Brian. I felt like I only learned cursory details and therefore when reading about what must have been a wrenching experience it came across as almost… ordinary. The whole explanation had a ho-hum, rinse and repeat tenor to it. Maybe it’s because I listened to the audio version and her voice was very matter of fact about it all. It just didn’t land for me, but I’m grateful to Amy and Brian for being so open about their experience.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn

    My husband has the same "stuff". My physician husband has early to mild cognitive loss at least for four years. He was tested after a TMI and fever and he was diagnosed with memory loss. That was 7 yrs. ago. I was told it would not worsen. That proved not true. I have such guilt over getting angry with him. The book has helped me. I will look for a support and stop apologizing for my tear. Married 48 years. My husband has the same "stuff". My physician husband has early to mild cognitive loss at least for four years. He was tested after a TMI and fever and he was diagnosed with memory loss. That was 7 yrs. ago. I was told it would not worsen. That proved not true. I have such guilt over getting angry with him. The book has helped me. I will look for a support and stop apologizing for my tear. Married 48 years.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Joanne Clarke Gunter

    One of the best memoirs I have ever read and I have read a lot of memoirs. It took a lot of courage for Amy Bloom to write this book and even more courage to help her beloved husband achieve his final goal of death with dignity before Alzheimer's disease stripped every human ability from him. One of the best memoirs I have ever read and I have read a lot of memoirs. It took a lot of courage for Amy Bloom to write this book and even more courage to help her beloved husband achieve his final goal of death with dignity before Alzheimer's disease stripped every human ability from him.

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