Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Disappointing Book CLub

"Books save [the] soul, 
and a story saves [a] life, 
or at least it does so temporarily."
--Will Schwalbe, The End of Your Life Book Club

Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Knopf, 352 pages
Release Date: August 31st, 2012
Find on Goodreads--The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

The End of Your Life Book Club is memoir that a man writes about the books he and his mother read and connected over while she was dying of pancreatic cancer. Sound uplifting, yet? While the title and premise of the book sound like you are in for 326 pages of a depressing disease, this is not actually the case. The book is not as sad and depressing as I initially thought it would be...however it also is not as good as I thought it would be. Maybe my expectations were too high but I really thought I would get into this book and that just didn't happen. 

What I did absolutely love without a doubt was the obvious love of books Will and his mother both had. They grew up with books, they lived and breathed books and recognized how important literature is in one's life. They talk about books giving your life meaning and that by reading you can see what is happening around the world and what you can do to change it. This aspect of the book was inspiring. His mother, Mary Anne, worked with refugees helping them find homes and jobs, etc. for most of her life. She was extremely passionate about it and it did really make me think how lucky we are to live where we do and have access to pretty much anything we desire, whereas there are so many around the world who have so little. The injustice of it all spoke to me and I very much enjoyed reading about her work and what she has done in her life. 

As a nurse, I also did like the medical aspect of it. Hearing about the different treatments and the long term care of somebody with pancreatic cancer was extremely interesting to me. I see patients like Mary Anne on one of her many hospital visits, I never get to see the patient before and after and beyond what happens to them except in that short period of time. Seeing this aspect of a person who has cancer was refreshing to see.

Beyond those two points the book didn't really grab me. Did I cry at some points? Yes. But it was mostly empathy for this man losing his mother. I found myself really just wanting to finish this book and be done with it. The books they read sounded to be beyond depressing and, sorry to say this, all the same. Most all of them took place in Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.. and they all seemed to focus on the plight of a refugee. While my heart bleeds for them I can only stomach so many of those books. They sounded so dark and heavy. I think I would have liked it more if they were books I myself had also read but alas this wasn't the case. 

I really, really wanted to like this book but it just did not hold my attention the way so many other books do. I did not really ever look forward to picking it back up to read and while there were minor aspect and themes I really enjoyed the overall feel of the book just wasn't something I enjoyed. 

2.5/5 Stars


  1. Good review. I always feel conflicted when I give an emotionally-charged book a low rating...I feel like I owe the book more stars for its grief. But tears don't always = good writing.

    1. Exactly! I felt bad but I just couldn't get into the book :/

  2. Wow - I love the way this book starts. I'm drawn right in. I really must read this one.

    Maycee Greene (SEO in Olympia)


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