3 out of 4 stars
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"I am humbled to admit my failures because they are what make me human. We all mess up in relationships. We need to give more grace to ourselves, to our friends, to our siblings, to our parents, and to our children."
In The Last Day of Regret, Matthew J. Diaz seeks answers to the questions surrounding the untimely death of his twenty-four-year-old sister, Hannah. Did she plan to take her life or was her suicide an accidental overdose? Diaz poignantly chronicles their relationship and Hannah's struggle with suicidal thoughts, addiction, and borderline personality disorder. He discusses the family dynamics and timeline leading up to Hannah's death and openly conveys his guilt and regret regarding his inability to show compassion to his sister in her time of need. Diaz expresses the range of emotions and helplessness that affects the family members of those with mental illness. From his heart, he shares what he learned from his sister's life and his journey from brokenness to healing and redemption.
The loss of a loved one is always painful, and Diaz's account of his sister's unexpected death, although heartbreaking, is a meaningful tribute to her life. He eloquently conveys the complicated dynamics of a blended-family and addresses themes including acceptance, faith, compassion, grace, guilt, regret, forgiveness, and redemption. Diaz's thoughts are supported by scriptural references in a manner which is comforting without being preachy.
I most like Diaz's heartfelt honesty as he shares the painful memories of his own shortcomings in relating to his sister. He is brutally transparent, and at times, his emotions are raw. Anyone who has walked through mental illness or addiction with a loved one will relate to Diaz second-guessing his reactions to his sister. I also appreciate his willingness to share the lessons he learned from Hannah's life and their relationship.
My only dislike is the author's tendency to repeat content. Due to the nature of the book, I understand his need to build upon the events leading to his sister's death to establish the family timeline. However, there are certain circumstances that are repeated, as if they are new to the reader, interrupting the overall flow of the story.
Additionally, there are a few editorial issues which leave me to conclude that the book isn't professionally edited. First, each chapter begins with page one; the duplicate page numbers are confusing and when paired with the repetitive content, add to a lack of cohesiveness. I also noted missing words, typos, and empty spaces designated for photos to illustrate Hannah's grave marker and meaningful tattoos. It may be that the PDF I received is an unedited version which has since been corrected. Nonetheless, as is, I rate the book 3 out of 4 stars; with a bit of polishing, it could easily earn a perfect rating. I recommend it to Christian readers and families who have been affected by mental illness or suicide. On the other hand, readers who dislike reading scriptures may prefer to pass on this one.
Moderator Note: This book has been edited since the review.
The Last Day of Regret
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