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Book Review

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 an…

Overall Book 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”

Overall Book Rating
Profanity/Language
Rating:
2
10
Violence/Gore
Rating:
2
10
Sex/Nudity
Rating:
3
10

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About the Reviewer

My mother was the one who sparked my love of books. Long before school instruction, she sat me down and taught me to read. My childhood was filled with trips to the library and bookmobile to find great books. My first loves were The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Pippi Longstocking series by Astrid Lingren. Now as a mom and speech pathologist, I am constantly looking for good, clean books to use at home and in therapy. I enjoy reading many different genres, but my favorites are usually historical fiction. I married my best friend, the “boy next door”, and we have a beautiful little girl who we often find sprawled out on the floor, flipping through picture books. Together our family likes to swim, run and play tennis. Besides reading, I also love to bake, garden and travel.