Book Review: “The End of Your Life Book Club” by Will Schwalbe


As the baby boomer generation ages, we found ourselves increasingly dealing with our aging parents’ passing. The author, Will Schwalbe, spent a good precious 2-year time with his mother, who battled her pancreatic cancer and endured one chemo therapy after another. During these time, they formed a strong bond through sharing their takeaways from the books they read in their de facto book club. There were cheerful books but mostly books about life and death experience. There were wonderful teachings throughout this book about books.

Will is fortunate to have a very capable and avid-reader mother. I wish I could share my reading experience with my parents and loved ones. From this book, we see a wonder human being Mary Ann Schwalbe was. After working in academic field, she plunged into the woman refuge commission to help the most disadvantaged people in a war-torn Third World like Afghanistan, Pakistan and others. Until her death, she never wavered from her mission.

In a way, this book is an autobiography of author mother subtly told between the book club sharing – very skillfully written. It doesn’t get too boring nor overly melancholy. There were so many books they read. Unfortunately, there was just one or two books that I’ve read, hence it’s hard to relate to their discussion. I wish I will someday read some of the books they read and shared, though most of the books they read are fictional which are not my cup of tea. Also Will’s mother has a strange habit of reading the ending then read from the beginning. That should have spoiled the fun of reading a fictional novel, no?

Will Schwalbe should be very proud and honored to have a mother like Mary Ann Schwalbe. Hope her legacy in the refugee endeavor lives on.