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.
Reviews and Endorsements:
Last Things is one of the most amazingly poignant and honest memoirs - graphic or otherwise -- I've ever encountered. This book - which I read in one insatiable sitting -- tore my heart in two. Moss handles the material with such a delicate sensibility, both with her drawings and her text, I couldn't help but let her carry me along on her journey of love and loss. ---Katie Hafner, contributing writer to The New York Times and author of Mother, Daughter, Me: A Memoir
A gripping portrayal of how devastating ALS can be, but also a powerful example of resilience and hope. --- Dr. Catherine Lomen-Hoerth, neurologist, ALS clinic, UCSF
"A graphic memoir by an author best known for her children's books details the devastating effects of her husband's amyotrophic lateral sclerosis on her entire family. Though Moss has sold millions of books—particularly the Amelia's Notebook series—she explains in the acknowledgments that "this book wasn't easy to sell. Many agents and editors felt it was too dark or sad." It is both of those, as the author subverts the stereotype of the noble caregiver and the patient whose fatal illness teaches everyone about the true meaning of life. Moss offers no clichéd heroism. "We're told that major illness deepens us, makes us grateful for our lives," she writes. "But for me, ALS doesn't work that way. I'm not a bigger, nobler person and neither is [my husband] Harvey." When Harvey received his diagnosis and quickly saw his health decline, he seemed to resent his wife's attempts to help him or be closer to him. And she resented him back, not only for the impositions his illness made on her and his lack of appreciation, but for the way it altered the dynamic of the entire family. "But it's not his disease," she maintains, after he decreed that he would notify their children. "It's rotting away at all of us," writes Moss. "First it killed our marriage. Now it's destroying our family. And then Harvey will die. What will be left of us?" Instead of the concern for Harvey that one would expect as a focus, the author is brutally honest about how hard she took his illness and how it affected her. There are brief flashes of a return of intimacy and connection between them—and sessions with a therapist provided some perspective—but it seems that only after his death could she truly reconnect with the husband she loved. When Moss writes, "this isn't how it's supposed to be," other readers who aren't feeling what they're supposed to be feeling could well find comfort in a kindred spirit." –Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2017
“For every person affected ALS, there is a story to tell. From her front-line perspective, Marissa Moss bravely shares her family’s challenges during her husband’s journey with ALS in a very personal way. We are grateful for her efforts to raise awareness and support for people living with ALS and their families.” --The ALS Association Golden West Chapter
"Every doctor should read this book for the emotionally powerful insight it gives into how serious illness affects a family." --Robert Wachter, Chair of Dept. of Medicine, UCSF and author of New York Times Bestseller The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine's Computer Age
"With expressive drawings and an earnest reflective voice, Marissa Moss creates real intimacy with her readers, bringing them into this personal story of disease, heartbreak, and love. Last Things testifies to the redemptive power of memory, history, and writing." —Amy Kurzweil, author of The Flying Couch
“If anyone still thinks the graphic format can’t be used to tell deep, grown-up, powerful stories, Last Things ought to change their mind. It’s about all the big questions: How we live, how we raise our children, how we survive seemingly unbearable loss. Moss’s authenticity, raw honesty and vulnerability will help anyone who’s struggling with loss and ‘lasts’ – ultimately, that’s all of us.” —Marjorie Ingall, author of Mamaleh Knows Best
"This journey is one that we rarely speak about, but it absolutely needs to be told. Marissa's messages to all of us are powerful, profound and touching as she navigates the death of her husband. I feel honored to be part of it." — Stuart Kelman, Founding Rabbi, Congregation Netivot Shalom
“In this deeply affecting graphic memoir, Moss lays out the struggles of trying to live as her husband is dying of Lou Gehrig's disease. Her simple drawings reveal the pain and anguish her characters don't know how to express in words, making the format a perfect choice for the story. Those facing similar situations will feel relief at finding their struggles and confusion laid clearly on a page. A sad, haunting memoir.” —Marika McCoola, New York Times bestselling author of Baba Yaga's Assistant
"Powerful and beautiful – this book is a great addition to the graphic novel canon." — Ian Lendler, author of The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents MacBeth
"I was swept into the story, swept along." — Joan Lester, author of Mama's Child
"This is a very brave and beautifully drawn account. Anyone coping with the loss of a spouse is going to benefit – and any reader can relate to the family dynamics, the stress of caregiving, and the crisis of a terminal disease." — Eleanor Vincent, author of Swimming with Maya: A Mother's Story
"This is a very powerful story. It needs to be published (and I say that as someone who has no personal connection with ALS). It’s a universal story of connection and separation and searching for reconnection after a loss." --Bill Boerman-Cornell, Professor of Education, Trinity College
“Loving, moving, and articulate, Last Things is packed with emotional truth. It’s a clear-eyed testimony to the way death arrives, sometimes inch by inch, inspiring the courage and strength and generosity that are the best things we bring to this life.” —Jennifer Hayden, Eisner-nominated author of Underwire and The Story of My Tits
About the Author:
Marissa Moss has written more than 50 children's books, from picture books to middle-grade and young adult novels. Best known for the "Amelia's Notebook" series (over 5 million sold), her books are popular with teachers and children alike. Barbed Wire Baseball, her latest picture book, won the California Book Award gold medal. Marissa is also the founder of Creston Books, an independent children's publishing house. Visit her at www.marissamoss.com.