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Extended Audio Sample The Still Point of the Turning World, by Emily Rapp Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Emily Rapp Narrator: Ali Ah Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Like all mothers, Emily Rapp had ambitious plans for her first and only child, Ronan. He would be smart, loyal, fearless, level-headed, and fun. He would be good at crossword puzzles like his father.  He would be an avid skier like his mother. She would speak to Ronan in foreign languages and give him the best education. But all of these plans changed when, at nine months old, Ronan was diagnosed with Tay-Sachs disease, a rare, fatal degenerative disorder. Ronan was not expected to live beyond the age of three, and he would be permanently stalled at a developmental level of six months. Rapp and her husband were forced to re-evaluate everything they thought they knew about parenting. They would have to learn to live with their child in the moment—to find happiness in the midst of sorrow and to parent without a future.

The Still Point of the Turning World is the story of a mother’s journey through grief. Rapp’s response to her son’s diagnosis was a need to “make [her] world big”—to make sense of her family’s situation through art, literature, philosophy, theology, and myth. Drawing on a broad range of thinkers and writers, from C. S. Lewis to Sylvia Plath, Hegel’s theories to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Rapp learns what wisdom there is to be gained from parenting a terminally ill child. In luminous, moving prose she reexamines our most fundamental assumptions about what it means to be a good parent, to be a success, and to live a meaningful life.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Written with remarkable precision and restraint, Emily Rapp’s The Still Point of the Turning World takes us to the depths of grief, where almost against our will, heartbreak becomes beautiful.”

    Roger Rosenblatt, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Emily Rapp didn’t want to tell us this story. She had to. That necessity is evident in every word of this intelligent, ferocious, grace-filled, gritty, astonishing starlight of a book.”

    Cheryl Strayed, New York Times bestselling author

  • “A brilliant study of the wages of mortal love.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “This is a book that’s honest and thoughtful, and we find that, like Rapp herself, enduring such heartbreak imbues us with a new sense of wisdom and courage.”

    Amazon.com, editorial review

  • “Radiant…Emily Rapp is not one to sugarcoat hard truths…Writing is clearly an essential tool for dealing with ‘thoughts that put me right at the thinning edge of sanity.’ But her memoir is also an indication that this self-proclaimed reformed ‘ambition addic’ hasn’t eschewed all aspirations: Redescribing [his] story, Ronan’s story—his path, his myth—could blaze new pathways of understanding not only for me but for others.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Impassioned and searing…Rapp combines an essayist’s willingness to lay herself bare on the page, a theologian’s search to plumb the mysteries of life, and a poet’s precision. The result is stunning…It’s a circular account, raw and cerebral, raising more questions than it presumes to answer.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “A passionate, potent chronicle...A beautiful, searing exploration of the landscape of grief and a profound meditation on the meaning of life.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Unflinching and unsentimental, Rapp's work lends a useful, compassionate, healing message for suffering parents and caregivers.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Rapp’s words will sear your heart and make you want to be a better parent, sister, partner, friend. Reading her book will change your life.”

    Sarah Sentilles, author of Breaking Up with God

  • “An unforgettable moral and artistic triumph.”

    Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion and Slow Motion

  • “Rapp elegantly transforms her experience of mothering a child who will die into a tenuous understanding of mortality and loving "without a net, without the future, without the past…right now.”


  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month
  • A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2013 in Nonfiction
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About the Author

Emily Rapp is the author of Poster Child: A Memoir. She is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Writers’ Award, a James A. Michener Fellowship at the University of Texas-Austin, and the Philip Roth Writer-in-Residence fellowship at Bucknell University. Rapp is a former Fulbright scholar and graduate of Harvard Divinity School, and her writing has appeared in SlateSalon, and the New York Times. She is currently professor of creative writing and literature at the Santa Fe University of Art.