Publisher's Note:  

"What are you reading?”

That’s the question Will Schwalbe asks his mother, Mary Anne, as they sit in the waiting room of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. In 2007, Mary Anne returned from a humanitarian trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan suffering from what her doctors believed was a rare type of hepatitis. Months later she was diagnosed with a form of advanced pancreatic cancer, which is almost always fatal, often in six months or less.

This is the inspiring true story of a son and his mother, who start a “book club” that brings them together as her life comes to a close. Over the next two years, Will and Mary Anne carry on conversations that are both wide-ranging and deeply personal, prompted by an eclectic array of books and a shared passion for reading. Their list jumps from classic to popular, from poetry to mysteries, from fantastic to spiritual. The issues they discuss include questions of faith and courage as well as everyday topics such as expressing gratitude and learning to listen. Throughout, they are constantly reminded of the power of books to comfort us, astonish us, teach us, and tell us what we need to do with our lives and in the world. Reading isn’t the opposite of doing; it’s the opposite of dying.

Will and Mary Anne share their hopes and concerns with each other—and rediscover their lives—through their favorite books. When they read, they aren’t a sick person and a well person, but a mother and a son taking a journey together. The result is a profoundly moving tale of loss that is also a joyful, and often humorous, celebration of life: Will’s love letter to his mother, and theirs to the printed page.

The End of Your Life Book Club

by Will Schwalbe

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Overall Review:  

"I was learning that when you're with someone who is dying, you may need to celebrate the past, live the present, and mourn the future all at the same time"

The End of Your Life Book Club is a compelling read. Author Will Schwalbe shares how he and his mother grew closer after her cancer diagnosis by starting "a book club for two". Schwalbe's voice is casual and friendly and the book flows well. I loved that the narrative emphasized how books can carry us through the good times and the bad. Besides discussing what novels the two read (a comprehensive list is provided for readers), Schwalbe outlines his mother's life history and her many accomplishments. Readers will be inspired by Mary Anne Schwalbe's tireless work and devotion. The End of Your Life Book Club is an inspirational memoir and awesome tribute to one mother from her loving son.

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  1 religious exclamation, 4 mild obscenities


Violence/Gore:  The author mentions books that involve verbal threats, assassination, injury, war, and the Holocaust; the author reports of suicide and verbal threats; a girl recounts when her hands were cut off during her country's civil war.


Sex/Nudity:  The author mentions books and plays that include rape, adultery and sex; a few sexual references occur. 

Mature Subject Matter:  

Death of a family member, social conflict, war, terminal illness, homosexuality

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Characters drink; a character describes himself as "drunk"

Reviewed By Rachel
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