The End of Your Life Book Club

We know Mary Ann Schwalbe will die of pancreatic cancer, and we mourn her from the opening pages. When her son, Will, offers to accompany her to appointments and treatments, he starts an early waiting-room conversation with a familiar question: "What are you reading?" Thus, their book-club-for-two was born. The story of the two years of Schwalbe's mother's illness, The End of Your Life Book Club is also an homage to her remarkable life: in theater, as director of admissions at Harvard and Radcliffe, as an organizer of refugee rescue efforts and as a wife and mother. We see her wit and acceptance, the strength she gives to others. Schwalbe's accounts of their book discussions lead to reflections on life, as well as insights into the works and the authors. (Early on, they literally passed Alan Bennett's An Uncommon Reader back and forth, sharing passages that expressed the passion for books they, too, felt.) Ultimately, though, The End of Your Life Book Club is about Mary Ann: How is she feeling in this chapter? Will she have a good report? We love her early on, and not weeping is not an option. --Cheryl Krocker McKeon, bookseller

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