The inspiring story of a son and his dying mother, who form a "book club" that brings them together as her life comes to a close.
Mary Anne Schwalbe is waiting for her chemotherapy treatments when Will casually asks her what she's reading. The conversation they have grows into tradition: soon they are reading the same books so they can have something to talk about in the hospital waiting room. The ones they choose range from classic to popular, from fantastic to spiritual, and we hear their passion for reading and their love for each other in their intimate and searching discussions.
A profoundly moving testament to the power of love between a child and parent, and the power of reading in our lives.
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Crossing to Safety
We were nuts about the mocha in the waiting room at Memorial Sloan-Kettering's outpatient care center. The coffee isn't so good, and the hot chocolate is worse. But if, as Mom and I discovered, you push the"mocha" button, you see how two not-very-good things can come together to make something quite delicious. The graham crackers aren't bad either.
The outpatient care center is housed on the very pleasant fourth floor of a handsome black steel and glass office building in Manhattan on the corner of 53rd Street and Third Avenue. Its visitors are fortunate that it's so pleasant, because they spend many hours there. This is where people with cancer wait to see their doctors and to be hooked up to a drip for doses of the life-prolonging poison that is one of the wonders of the modern medical world. By the late autumn of 2007, my mother and I began meeting there regularly.
Our book club got its formal start with the mocha and one of the ...
Some of the recent comments posted about The End of Your Life Book Club. Join the discussion! You can see the full discussion here.
Article and picture of author and mother in USA Today
dorothyt, I was debating on whether to comment on Will's good looks - if it was appropriate or not - and since you did I feel free to say I think he's adorable! ;-p Lisa - lisag
Audio version of EOYLFB
I love CD books for long car rides but my commute to work is all of about five minutes. I know, you hate me! When I had to drive back and forth to grad school (an hour each way) time went so quickly listening to books. I loved that. I also have "... - lisag
Books as a bridge
Friendships and conversations can easily be started with, "Have you read - - - -". Books can also give understanding of problems and examples for solutions in problem discussion. I have formed friendships over books and had grand times in book ... - jacquelynh
Does Mary Anne ever think of herself as brave?
Paula, I'm sure Will would just point to his mother as an example of bravery and I agree with your definition of brave. It's about not letting anything stop you from pursuing your dream, no matter how scared you may feel and despite limiting factors... - lisag
How did the realization that "we're all in the end-of-our-life book club, whether we acknowledge it or not," affect Will's final days with his mom?
I hope it made him appreciate each day more that he had with her. - bettyt
Will Schwalbe's heart-wrenching memoir is difficult to categorize. It is at once a paean to his beloved mother, a treatise on the power of reading, and a handbook on how to live - and die. With direct prose and unflinching courage in the face of sadness, Schwalbe recreates the final months of his mother's life, offering a wealth of insight into how the written word can connect lives.
(Reviewed by Sarah Sacha Dollacker).
Full Review (1048 words).
Mary Anne Schwalbe was a woman of many careers. She was a high school teacher; head of admissions at Harvard; and a founder, and later, director of the Women's Refugee Commission. Her work with the WRC was something she was passionate about through the end of her life.
Founded in 1989 (and initially called the Women's Commission), the Women's Refugee Commission's mission is to improve the lives of women and children refugees around the world. The commission points out that four out of five of the world's nearly 45 million displaced people are women, children and young people. Most of these women and children are in long-term displacement situations that could last up to 17 years. Through research and fact-finding field missions, the WRC ...
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