Helllllllllo readers, hope you’re well and ready for another review. This is going to probably be a really long and it’s definitely going to be a difficult one to review. I don’t have a favourite book, and I don’t even (really) have a top ten. There are a couple that feature; The Book Thief, The Chocolate Run and Remember to Breathe have all been there for a long time – today we add a new one. This book is fantastic and any reader, ANY READER, so get a copy and read this fantastic tribute to an incredible woman.
“What are you reading?”
That’s the question Will Schwalbe asks his mother, Mary Anne, as they sit in the waiting room of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. In 2007, Mary Anne returned from a humanitarian trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan suffering from what her doctors believed was a rare type of hepatitis. Months later she was diagnosed with a form of advanced pancreatic cancer, which is almost always fatal, often in six months or less.
This is the inspiring true story of a son and his mother, who start a “book club” that brings them together as her life comes to a close. Over the next two years, Will and Mary Anne carry on conversations that are both wide-ranging and deeply personal, prompted by an eclectic array of books and a shared passion for reading. Reading isn’t the opposite of doing; it’s the opposite of dying.
Will Schwalbe began accompanying his mother to chemo treatments for her pancreatic cancer at Sloan Kettering. To pass the time, Mr. Shwalbe asks his mother, “What are you reading?”
This is the main premise of the entirety of the book ; Will’s mother is dying of pancreatic cancer, and whilst they struggle through the emotional and physically tests that an illness creates, Will and his Mother, who have always shared an adoration and love of reading create a sort of two person book club, where they read through countless books and tell the stories of Will and his mother, his childhood, the stories of his siblings, the incredible work that his parents have done and share this incredibly special bond between the two. From the obscure to the popular we get a perfect insight into the wonderful relationship between two very special people.
So did I enjoy this? Pretty obvious I absolutely adored this; the books explored from Politics of Conscience by Eleanor Rathbone to the beautiful and heart-warming Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture, the book tells a timeline of a relationship that although is being told around a devastating sickness, a relationship and a story is woven around talking about something other than being sick. There are constant contrasts; Will is a person that doesn’t partake in religion and yet Mary Anna continues and even more so towards the end of her life, the need for a God and for a next life show the different ways we can engage and get comfort from books.
The characters are brilliantly and almost perfectly written – Mary Anne is utter star from page one; her grace, humanity, her mothering nature and her humour spring from the pages. A modest character who throughout her life continuously strived as a well-known and successful activist, giving her life to refugee causes and at the time of the book is raising funds for a library in Afghanistan. Will is additionally an utter joy to read about; his strength, humility and his constant re-evaluation of his life and his relationships, is beautifully done. All of the characters we come into are beautifully written.
So would I recommend this; yes, just yes. This is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. If you’ve read Randy Pausch’s book (mentioned above) it has the same kind of feel but with a really beautifully bookish aspect; each of the chapters has a book title as the name and there is a list at the back of all the books mentioned and I am definitely going to attempt to read a lot of them and then review for you. The biggest compliment is that halfway through this book I knew it would my top ten favourite books ever so far. It’s a stunning and you need to read it.