Nancy Kennedy's Reviews > The End of Your Life Book Club

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe
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it was amazing

Will Schwalbe began accompanying his mother to chemo treatments for her pancreatic cancer at Sloan Kettering. To pass the time, Mr. Shwalbe asks his mother, "What are you reading?"

Fortunately, Mr. Schwalbe and his mother had always shared a love of reading and enjoyed spirited conversations about their favorite books. While the endless chemo treatments proceed, and his mother's disease progresses, the two make their way through books of all kinds, from the popular (The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency) to the obscure (Eleanor Rathbone and the Politics of Conscience).

The mother-son book club not only serves to pass the time, but it deepens their relationship and provides an outlet for discussing uncomfortable end-of-life issues. They read Randy Pausch's The Last Lecture and Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking. With his "book club," Mr. Schwalbe gives a wonderful gift to his mother, an outlet for discussing issues that make most people around a sick person uncomfortable -- and a way to talk about something other than being sick.

I also appreciated that Mr. Schwalbe, a person of no professed faith, does not denigrate the books his mother cherishes at the end of her life -- The Book of Common Prayer and Daily Strengths For Daily Needs. He comes to see not only the good they did his mother, but how their underlying messages shaped his mother's character all her life. (She was a well-known activist for refugee causes. She was raising funds for a library in Afghanistan at the end of her life.)

Mr. Schwalbe's portrait of his extraordinary mother is respectful and well balanced. He acknowledges all the people who loved her, honored her and cherished her. He hints at frustrations ("How, I wondered, could anyone always want to talk to everyone?"), but it's clear that he and his mother shared a close and loving relationship. This is a son's gentle tribute to his mother, a memoir that shows how one family negotiated the reality of death and dying with creativity, love and respect.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
September 1, 2012 – Finished Reading
October 2, 2012 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-15 of 15 (15 new)

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message 1: by Ij (new) - added it

Ij Great review!!! I will add this book to my "to read" list.


Nancy Kennedy Ij wrote: "Great review!!! I will add this book to my "to read" list."

Thanks! It will be well worth your time.


Shannon Excellent review. I've added this to my "to read".


Nancy Kennedy You'll enjoy it, Shannon!


message 5: by Amy (new) - added it

Amy Great review!


Rosalie Great review. I am immensely enjoying this read.


Nancy Kennedy I'm glad everyone's enjoying this wonderful book!


Nancy I'm loving it!!


Mollie If you haven't read the books they read, are there spoilers? Does it take away from the experience?


Nancy Kennedy I wouldn't say there are spoilers, but I did feel a little lost now and again when I wasn't familiar with a book they were reading. But it doesn't detract from the story. You'll still enjoy the book.


Mollie Thanks!


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

read it. great book!


Iffat "t's clear that he and his mother shared a close and loving relationship. This is a son's gentle tribute to his mother, a memoir that shows how one family negotiated the reality of death and dying with creativity, love and respect.".....Well said Nancy. Totally agree..


Nancy Kennedy Thanks, Anna. I imagine you enjoyed the book, too!


Vicki Cook What a wonderful book.the comments and observations about E readers are right on target.i picked up some great suggestions for my next book.


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