Just over a month ago, on a Saturday morning, I woke up extra early. My boyfriend and I had friends visiting from out of town and I needed to make sure I had at least an hour before anyone woke up. Careful to be quiet and as inconspicuous as possible, I slipped my book off the bedside table, propped up my pillow and read the last fifty pages of Will Schwalbe’s The End of Your Life Book Club. I closed the cover with tears of both sadness and happiness running down my cheeks. From the moment I opened this book on the streetcar to work one morning, to that moment laying in bed, tenderly holding the book and crying, I knew that this was something magical. I was touched. And not just slightly.
The End of Your Life Book Club is the story of the author, Will Schwalbe and his mother, Mary Anne, and the time they spend together during her chemotherapy treatments. Sadness looms in hospital treatment rooms. Despite the kind nurses, the cheery decor, and even the family or friends who sit with the patients, there is still an air of forewarning and a touch of terror that flows into the veins along with the concoction of medicine. Will and Mary Anne’s solultion for the hours spend in such a room, was to talk about books. Both Will and his mother held books in extremely high regard and often shared similar tastes. Though an obvious means of passing the time, their two person book club became so much more than that. With the over one hundred books mentioned in this novel, Will and his mother found a way to discuss the dialogue of their lives without directly addressing issues that often seemed too morbid or tragic to be verbally expressed. The book club taught this mother and son more than just to appreciate some phenomenal literary works; it taught them about each other.
Will’s words carved into me in the most astonishing way; because of their elegance and their power, and because I had felt this way myself. Cancer has invaded the lives of most people in one way or another, and this book speaks to both those suffering from the disease, and their loved ones who feel helpless to do anything to help. Will’s love for his mother is tremendous and by the end of the book, I felt like I knew them personally. I felt like part of the book club.
This book is one of those stories that linger on your mind, and instill itself permanently into your heart. Yes, you will cry. But you will also love every moment.
Also, Will is perhaps one of the nicest people I have ever met via Twitter. If you read the book and love it, let him know!