Book Review: The End of Your Life Book Club

Grab a box of Kleenex and a pad of paper (or be VERY close to your Goodreads App)! As fellow Hoarder Penny says, “this book will make your ‘To Be Read’ pile EXPLODE!!” Thank you so much to Random House for sending us a copy to review! It will definitely be one that gets passed to all Hoarders! Liz! It’s coming to you next so get ready!

We chose this book for our “Wink 3” Book Club because it was going to be the featured book in October’s Chatelaine Magazine, it was starting to become a big buzz and, hey, it had Book Club in the title so why not?! It sure did not disappoint! As sad as the subject of losing a loved one to cancer is, this book somehow managed to be a truly up lifting story that you absolutely could NOT put down! This was author Will Schwalbe’s love letter to his dynamo of a mother, Mary Ann. Their Book Club of 2 took place in the waiting room of the cancer treatment centre. Mother and son were forever reading and their common interest in books became their way of communicating. “What are you reading?” was all they needed to ask and the conversations would be endless.

“We’re all in the end-of-our life book club, whether we acknowledge it or not; each book we read may well be the last, each conversation the final one.”

One of the things I loved the most about this book (apart from the reading list) was that I could totally relate to these people despite the differences in our situations– proof that the “language” of reading is universal. We all feel the same when reading a good book– you just want to tell everyone you meet “HEY! You HAVE to read this book– it was soooo gooooood!”. Readers know what a thrill it is to meet another reader that is as passionate about books as you are. Like Will, I am also lucky enough to share my love of reading with my mom and I think that is another reason why this book resonated so much with me (that and Will’s difference in opinion with his mother as far as religion is concerned– my mother is religious (yikes! A CATHOLIC) and I am nowhere near that belief. He treats his mother’s beliefs with respect and understanding without sounding preachy and cheesy. I loved that!)

I also felt that even though the Schwalbes were a wealthy family and were very fortunate to live a privileged kind of lifestyle, it never seemed that they took it for granted. Will felt exceedingly lucky that he was able to quit his un-fulfilling job and Mary Ann never thought twice about giving her time (and I’m sure plenty of money) to refugees, volunteering overseas in Third World countries and building libraries in Afghanistan. Even being sick with cancer was something that Mary Ann was forever grateful that she could actually “afford” to do– many in the United States will go bankrupt when they get sick (Mary Ann’s dying wish was that Obama would FINALLY institute universal healthcare in the United States– something, I am thankful for every day as a Canadian– thank you Tommy Douglas!). Reading about these people made you want to become a better person rather than making you envious of all that they had. Will Schwalbe seems like such a genuinely great person! I would love to hang out with him!

And then there was the reading list! There were sooooooo many great books that I had read and was able to revisit and even more that I needed to add to the dreaded TBR pile (too many books– always a problem for a Literary Hoarder!). Some that were added were: The Lizard Cage, Felicia’s Journey, The Uncommon Reader, The Year of Magical Thinking, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, The Bolter, Suite Francais, A Long Way Gone, The Bite of the Mango and Continental Drift. When, oh WHEN, will I ever fit them in???

4 stars for this brilliant, feel good story that had me sobbing from page one! You HAVE to read this book! It was sooooo gooooood!

Mary Ann Schwable. Google her– she was quite the lady!

Note: Out of (morbid) curiosity I would have been interested in what Will and Mary Ann thought of the 50 Shades phenomenon had it been out during their time in the Book Club. Wow! Now, that would have been an awkward, but interesting, conversation for a mom and her gay son to have!! ;)