I wish I had known Mary Anne Schwalbe. Former director of admissions at Harvard, head of a prestigious New York prep school, tireless activist for refugees across the globe, devout Christian, feminist, wife, mother, and book lover, this small speck of a woman loomed large in countless ways. But now, thanks to her son, Will, in a way I do know her.
“The End of Your Life Book Club” is his account of their two years together as she struggled with the pancreatic cancer that killed her at age 75. It is not only a son’s heartfelt tribute to her courage and grace but vivid testimony to the enduring power of books to create meaning out of chaos, illuminate values, and connect us with each other. As mother and son rediscovered, “[r]eading isn’t the opposite of doing; it’s the opposite of dying.”