"I'm with you. Right now. That's all. No more and no less."

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Is it a coincidence that I haven’t stepped foot in a hospital in years and just as I’m getting to the core of The End of Your Life Book Club I find myself in a hospital waiting room? My boyfriend got his gallbladder removed on Friday and after being in the hospital for so many hours, waiting and worried, Will Schwalbe’s story really got to me.

A man sharing his story about his mother’s journey through her pancreatic cancer treatment is more incredible than I imagined. After Mary Anne is diagnosed with cancer, she and her son start their very own book club for two. They read the same books and discuss them at her chemo treatments. I still think about Mary Anne and Will as ‘characters’, as if what I’ve just read didn’t actually happen to someone. Mary Anne’s life and accomplishments are so extraordinary that as I updated my Good reads progress on this memoir, I had to remind myself that it is a very real story.

I learned a tremendous amount from Mary Anne Schwalbe and I feverishly underlined my favourite quotes (most of which were said by her). I learned about time, making time, being thankful, and enjoying every moment. I learned about kindness and the power it has to change someone’s life. I also learned about books.

“Reading isn’t the opposite of doing; it’s the opposite of dying,” (page 7).

This memoir fuelled my love for books. It reminded me that books are there to be devoured, to help you talk to people, to be shared. Books are there to hold you and to heal you. I made a list of books that Will and his mother included in their book club that I want to read. Each book they read taught them something and made their lives a little more rich.

This memoir is about books but it is so much more than that. It’s a page-turner that teaches you many things. It takes you on this incredibly sad and wonderful journey and makes you want to be the best person you can be. I am so glad that I chose this memoir as one of my books to review for Random House Canada. As a girl who rarely picks up non-fiction, I can honestly say that it opened my eyes, my heart, and my mind to this genre, to person I am, and to the woman I hope to become.

Love Always
Vanessa Xo
Synopsis (from the Random House of Canada Limited website)
“What are you reading?”
That’s the question Will Schwalbe asks his mother, Mary Anne, as they sit in the waiting room of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. In 2007, Mary Anne returned from a humanitarian trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan suffering from what her doctors believed was a rare type of hepatitis. Months later she was diagnosed with a form of advanced pancreatic cancer, which is almost always fatal, often in six months or less.
This is the inspiring true story of a son and his mother, who start a “book club” that brings them together as her life comes to a close. Over the next two years, Will and Mary Anne carry on conversations that are both wide-ranging and deeply personal, prompted by an eclectic array of books and a shared passion for reading. Their list jumps from classic to popular, from poetry to mysteries, from fantastic to spiritual. The issues they discuss include questions of faith and courage as well as everyday topics such as expressing gratitude and learning to listen. Throughout, they are constantly reminded of the power of books to comfort us, astonish us, teach us, and tell us what we need to do with our lives and in the world. Reading isn’t the opposite of doing; it’s the opposite of dying.
Will and Mary Anne share their hopes and concerns with each other—and rediscover their lives—through their favorite books. When they read, they aren’t a sick person and a well person, but a mother and a son taking a journey together. The result is a profoundly moving tale of loss that is also a joyful, and often humorous, celebration of life: Will’s love letter to his mother, and theirs to the printed page.

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