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CUP book

Sing No Sad Songs: Losing a daughter to cancer

20 November 2023

By Sandra Arnold


June 2011
Paperback, 220pp
228 x 175mm
ISBN 978-1-927145-06-7

At the age of 22 Rebecca Arnold, an art student from Greendale in Canterbury,was diagnosed with a rare and vicious cancer. Thirteen months later this vibrant and talented young woman was dead, her family left to cope with a tidal wave of grief and loss.

Sing No Sad Songs is a heartbreaking yet beautifully composed memoir by Rebecca’s mother, Sandra Arnold. It is a haunting story of bereavement, survival, courage and acceptance, as well as a tender account of a close mother-daughter relationship cut far too short.

The story begins with the family’s move to live in Brazil for a year, during which time we get to know Rebecca and her family, and watch her blossom into womanhood in this colourful and challenging environment. Her subsequent decline and death are all the more shocking in contrast.

This moving and compelling memoir is neither sentimental nor voyeuristic. It is a restrained telling of a personal journey – ‘the map I have constructed for myself’ – that is ultimately powerfully redemptive.

'Arnold has fashioned her own devastating experience into this book...She is, in my opinion, a heroic individual'. David Cohen, New Zealand Books

Sandra Arnold lives in North Canterbury with her husband, four alpacas and a dog and teaches at Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology. She has a MLitt and PhD in Creative Writing (Central Queensland University) and is the author of two novels. Her short fiction has been broadcast on Radio New Zealand and widely published and anthologised in New Zealand and overseas.

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