Author: Will Schwalbe
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Summary: This was a beautiful story which I found both inspirational and moving.
Will Schwalbe and his mother Mary Anne have always shared a love of reading, but rarely ended up reading the same books until Mary Anne was diagnosed with cancer. Mother and son then started a small, informal book club of two, discussing books while waiting in hospital lobbies. Their conversations were “both wide-ranging and deeply personal” (source) and showed how books can both help us forget ourselves and help us make sense of our own experiences.
Given the subject, I knew this was going to be a heart-wrenching book, but I was still surprised when the author’s beautiful, poignant writing brought me to tears in the first chapter. Even though it’s been months since I read this book, the emotional impact feels fresh. It was heart-warming and heart-breaking all at the same time. I really enjoyed the way the author included books in the story. Because they were a part of his life and his relationship with his mom, the book discussions didn’t feel artificial or intrusive. These parts flowed well and they often led into some of the most thought-provoking parts of the book.
The book really felt like a love letter from the author to both books and his mother. Obviously I share his love of books and empathized with those parts, but he did such an incredible job capturing his mother’s personality, I felt personally connected to her too. His mother’s strength and kindness were impressive and I like to think that the author would be happy to share that with people. I also found his description of his mother’s humanitarian efforts inspiring. Because of the way the ending focused on her life instead of her death, I didn’t finish this book feeling depressed. Instead, I felt inspired to get out and do more with my own life.