When Mary Anne Schwalbe returns home from a refugee mission to the Middle East with a mysterious illness, her family thinks she will soon recover. But after months of testing, her doctors tell her she has pancreatic cancer, a disease that rarely allows its victims longer than six months to live. Her son, Will, begins to accompany her to her chemotherapy sessions. Both son and mother are reluctant to discuss the seriousness of Mary Anne's illness and what it means. Perhaps to lighten the mood, Mary Anne asks one morning: "What are you reading?" This simple question sparks the formation of a two-person book club, a monthly gathering that will help them both to process what it means to lose a loved one.
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. ...
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