The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

One of my favorite places to visit for the weekend is Tulsa, Oklahoma. On every trip, I request a visit to Magic City Books, and it will surprise no one to know that, since my friend there is also a book lover, it doesn’t take much arm twisting.

Magic City Books is a tidy, well-curated store that always has excellent displays of both the popular bestsellers of the day and (sometimes) lesser known staff picks. Their second-hand shelf never fails to please, and it was there that I found The End of Your Life Book Club.

The book, written by former editor-in-chief of Hyperion Books, Will Schwalbe, is a tribute to his mother, who did significant work with refugees in Afghanistan, acted as a young woman, read voraciously, and raised her children to always think of others.

Though it draws the reader in and makes clear what pride Schwalbe had in his mother, it never commits the cardinal sin, according to a former professor, of becoming overly sentimental. Even in the tough moments–when Mary Anne is diagnosed; when she struggles with the side effects of chemotherapy; when her family must come to grips with her eventual loss–Schwalbe keeps the reader invested in his mother as a real, and accomplished, person.

If we’re being honest here, and I hope we are, I sobbed at the end, and I cried a little harder when I turned the page to find the list of books the two read over the course of Mary Anne’s treatment.

If you love to read, are interested in the ever-complicated relationships we have with family, or have ever lost someone you loved, you’ll enjoy this one.