Amy and Brian's world was changed forever with his diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer's. Forced to confront the daily frustrations and realities of the disease and its impact on their lives and marriage, Brian resolved not to let it dictate his life and instead asked himself: what makes life meaningful, and how do I want to live the rest of mine? His decision led them to learn about Dignitas and to fly to Zèurich for a peaceful ending of Brian's life.
Amy Bloom and Brian Ameche were a handsome couple. I know this not because there’s a photograph of them in Bloom’s new memoir ... I know this because I was so moved by Bloom’s bittersweet, truth-dealing book that I looked them up and read whatever I could find ... I’m not sure why I hadn’t until now read Bloom’s fiction. Maybe her soft, generic titles...were a deterrent. The title of this memoir is similar ... Not reading her: my loss. Bloom has one of those warm, wised-up, tolerantly misanthropic New York voices, in the manner of Laurie Colwin and Sloane Crosley and Allegra Goodman and Nora Ephron, and an ability to deepen her tone at will. I am not, as are these writers, Jewish. But when I read them I feel I’ve found my people ... Bloom tells this story with grace and tact. Scenes of their trip to Zurich are shuffled with scenes from their courtship and marriage ... There are a lot of tears in this memoir ... Part of what makes this book moving is Bloom’s toughness. She’s a mama bear, in the right ways. She doesn’t go overboard in explaining her moral reasoning. She doesn’t have to. Her title is her explanation.
... deeply stirring ... To manage such hefty subject matter, Bloom artfully divides the book into manageable chunks of very short chapters that are titled with either a date and place, or something playful ... any scientific data is limited to that which enhances the reader’s experience of Bloom’s struggle to honor her husband’s wish ... Philosophical questions regarding the self and ethics orbit the largely secular narrative without dominating it. Wisely, Bloom remains in the trenches of daily life, where the juxtaposition of normalcy with what’s happening to her husband maintains emotional torque for the reader, who is never asked to 'wait outside' — even for the 20 minutes after Brian has drunk the sodium pentobarbital that will end his life ... That said, there are moments of humor ... Bloom’s technical prowess is evident in her conscription of banal details to preface profound and sobering insights into love, marriage and death ... The most powerful scenes occur, understandably, in the closing chapters. The reader knows the end is coming, but when it does, the fact that it still feels like a shock is a testament to Bloom’s clear, lyrical prose about a subject that would cripple many of her peers ... As with all great books about dying, In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss does not terrorize with grim statistics and forewarnings but rather destigmatizes euthanasia and enriches the reader’s life with urgency and gratitude. It renews those joys of being In Love with the people around us — despite the numbing effects of routine and familiarity which so often cause happiness to lapse in middle age.
... [a] beautiful, poignant, darkly funny new memoir ... Bloom, a psychotherapist as well as an author, brings to her heart-rending task the skills of both professions: a clinician’s intimate knowledge of diseases of the brain and a novelist’s intuitive understanding of the human heart. To that potent mix, she throws in the sarcastic zingers and comic timing of a Borscht Belt comedian ... Bloom is terrific at sketching character ... Bloom relates the multiplying signs of Brian’s memory loss in a straightforward fashion—but with a surprising amount of suspense ... Bloom has a talent for mixing the prosaic and profound, the slapstick and the serious, which makes the book, despite its depressing subject matter, a pleasure to read. Rarely has a memoir about death been so full of life.