The End of Your Life Book Club

The End of Your Life Book Club

by Will Schwalbe

Anne Ferber (06/23/13) If Mr. Schwalbe's purpose in writing this book was to create a very personal, lovely tribute to his mother, consider it done. However, his sanctimonious submission, offering her up for sainthood, subtracts from all the good she may have accomplished and her strong ambition to change the world.

I totally agree that she lived an exemplary Christian life and her accomplishments were beyond the normal expectations for any good soul, but her controlling methods among her own family members(she wrote the thank you notes her children were to send to all well wishers after her funeral) were beyond the pale. Once she learned that he planned to write a book about their last two years together, she even dictated certain incidents that she insisted were to be included.

It is understandable that poor Will feels like he was a disappointment to her with his life choices (being gay, atheist, and not keeping a good respectable job)and, although they decided to have this two person book club upon hearing her diagnosis of pancreatic, stage IV cancer, it seemed like that book discussion at least gave them something to talk about! I would have preferred a good knock down drag out argument about religion!

I think what rubbed me the wrong way about this tribute was the superficiality of the discussion about his mother's strong characteristics. She was equally lauded for for traveling to third world countries to help refugees,and for holding hands and saying Merry Christmas to strangers. This was also true of the book readings, which each of them seemed to whiz through in a matter of hours and the resulting discussion seemed to boil down to one or two lines that seemed relevant to situation at hand. More to the point, I was surprised to learn that there were very few books on their lists about which I was unfamiliar, and I'm no scholar.

Judy Stanton (05/19/13) When I was recovering from injuries from a bad car wreck, reading was great therapy for me. It took my mind off my pain, made me feel less confined, and often reminded me of challenges others faced in their lives. So, I could relate to the author's mother's need to continue reading while going through very difficult treatment for pancreatic cancer; sadly, she died about two years post diagnosis. The book also reminded me so much of my mom's cancer battle, sometimes it was very hard to read. Mary Ann Schwalbe was such a good person who really cared about others and worked to make a difference in so many people's lives. The "book club" she shared with her son, reading and discussing books, often during chemotherapy, was an inspired way to maintain some normalcy during an abnormal, sometimes surreal, time, and to lead to discussions about sensitive issues, feelings, hopes, dreams of a lifetime. I plan to go back and add some of their books to my reading list.

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