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Book Review: “The End of Your Life Book Club”

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By Alexa Doiron

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When I first picked The End Of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe, I was apprehensive. Reading the back, I thought it sounded exactly like Tuesday’s With Morrie, which I had already read and judged quite harshly. However, I decided that maybe I should give this book a chance, because it sounded like I could at least get some other book recommendations out of it. This book did that and so much more.

This book tells the story of the relationship between a son, Will Schwalbe, and his mother, Mary Anne, at the end of her life. Both Schwalbe and his mother are floored when they learn that she has pancreatic cancer. As Mary Anne goes throughout her treatments, she and Will begin their own two-person book club in which they allow themselves to use books as the base for discussions about larger life issues. In the ripe age of seventy-three, Mary Anne Schwalbe has many insights into life and, as readers, we are blessed to hear about them. With each book the mother and son read together, we are drawn further into their relationship until it almost feels like Mary Anne is our mother too.

At first, I wasn’t very into what this book was about. Reading about an old woman with cancer sounded not only boring, but depressing. Fifty or so pages into the story, I realized that this book was essentially an inspirational guide to life from a woman who lived it as best as she could. By the end of the story, as the cancer progresses, I found myself emotionally attached to this woman I have never met. This was a woman I could see myself in, not only for her passion of literature, but for her passion for love. Every story in this book shows examples of how Mary Anne steered her life through the direction of love, whether it be love of her work or her family. This concept is one that is entirely unsettling, but in a good way. Here is someone who is on the brink of death and can only look back at their life with a passionate love.

By the end of this book I found myself sitting alone crying in the library. Never before had I been apprehensive about a book that ended up teaching me so much. The End of Your Life Book Club is a book that I would recommend to any member of the human race trying to find their own love of life.